OLAFire Logo
Our Lady of the Angels (OLA) School Fire, December 1, 1958

<< Richard HardyReturn To ListBarbara Hosking>>
Karen Margaret Hobik
Room Age Birthdate Grade B/G/T
211 13 7/3/45 8 Girl
Sister Mary Helaine O'Neill, BVM
1107 N Lawndale 
Father: Harvey Hobik, Sr.
Mother: Eleanor (Swarkowski) Hobik
Brother: Harvey Hobik, Jr.
Brother: Wayne Hobik
Brother: Ronald Hobik
Sister: Mary Ellen Hobik
Grandmother: Tillie Swarkowski
Aunt: Laura Swarkowski
Godparents: Ann Hobik and Emil Marzullo 
About Karen
Karen's older brother, Ronald, died in infancy in 1942. 
Interred: St. Adalbert (Niles, IL)
Memories of Karen
Karen was the sister of my best friend at the time, Wayne Hobik. Her brothers Harvey, Wayne and my cousin Jim Bertucci and I were always together playing on the street corner of Lawndale and Thomas. Karen would often join us playing kick the can or other street games or would come down to her basement where we had a club of neighborhood children. She was a terrific girl who ran through the OLA building alerting other classes about the fire. My last personal remembrance of her is dancing together in her basement to "The Purple People Eater" song. I believe it was her birthday party. My final remembrances were searching for her with her brothers after my school (Cameron) got out. When we couldn't find her, I waited with my friend Wayne for Mr. and Mrs. Hobik to get back home after visiting the hospitals and morgue. Unfortunately, she was not found alive. It seems like just yesterday, in some ways.
    -- (Harry Rossi, Friend)
I lived a few houses from Karen. I will never forget watching the school burn. I could never imagine Karen would be one of the victims. Karen was lovely and bright with beautiful eyes. She was beginning her transformation from girl to young woman. I was closer in age to Harvey, her brother. I remember summer days and nights playing with her siblings and mine in the alley. Her Dad would often come out and play ball with us. This is just one of many memories that seem like yesterday.
    -- (Anita Rossi Grosso, Friend)
Karen was one of my best girlfriends growing up. We were the same age. I went to Cameron public school and she went to OLA. I can remember many summers nights spent playing kick the can in the street with my brother and her brothers, we had such fun, it seems like only yesterday. We would also play dolls on her back porch, and her mother would give us ice cream bars to eat. She was a wonderful friend, and when news came that she had perished in the fire, I knew it had to be because she was trying to save someone else, and sure enough, it was. Though she has been gone many years now, memories of her still live in my heart.
    -- (Dorene Rossi Muscia, Friend)
I remember Karen so well - she was always caring for younger kids walking to school. She always had a smile and said hello to you by name. After the fire that was one of the things I missed, and a year and a half later, even though she would have been in high school, I missed her warm hello. The crossing guard Marty Limbach missed her as well, I mean she would have been in H.S., but she was still missed. Always, John Raymond
    -- (John Raymond, Friend)
I lived on the first floor of a two-flat across the street from the Hobik's and I went to the public school, D.R. Cameron. I was a few years younger than Karen and so had more contact with her sister, Mary Ellen. Her brothers, Harvey and Wayne, were friends with my cousin Donald, who lived upstairs from me, and would sometimes hang out on our back porch. Or, they would play ball together in the alley. I remember playing a lot of kick-the-can during the summers and I believe Karen was the one who showed us smaller ones how to play. I also remember, when I was a young child, that Karen's mother would bring over some of her clothes for me to wear. They were always so beautiful!

I was seven at the time of the fire. I heard about the fire on the way home from school and I remember watching the names of the victims scrolling on TV. I believe it was then that we saw Karen's name. I didn't fully comprehend what had happened but knew my parents were extremely upset. I remember later attending the wake with multiple caskets lining the walls of the funeral home. I held my father's hand as we walked around looking for Karen. Her casket had her beautiful photo on top. I vividly remember the uncontrollable sobbing in that room.

Afterwards, the mourning and shock from across the street and throughout the neighborhood changed everything. It had been a great place to grow up but now, kids didn't hang out or play as much together. Strangely, people didn't talk about the fire, but there was a pall of sadness and anger that permeated the air and our souls. Families began to move away; perhaps it was all just too much to bear.

Over the years, we somehow heard of Karen's heroism during the fire and it seemed to make it all the more tragic. She was a wonderful person with a giving nature from a wonderful family. I don't know how her family got through it.

I have thought of these times quite often as an adult. Even those of us who were lucky enough not to be in the fire or to lose family members were marked by the awful tragedy. May it never happen again.
    -- (Linda Maddalozzo Bertram, Neighbor)