Former Harper College professor who ran against Phil Crane dies at 84

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Against all odds, Elizabeth Hull of Palatine ran for Congress against the longtime Republican incumbent, Phil Crane, in 1996. Though Crane had represented the 8th Congressional District since 1969 and would go on to be the longest serving Republican in the House, Hull embraced the challenge.

At the time, she was an English professor at Harper College, but it was her work with the League of Women Voters in Palatine that prepared her — and her passion for women’s rights that drove her.

Hull died Tuesday, Aug. 3, after suffering complications from a fall and fracturing her hip. She was 84.

“She was definitely ahead of her time,” says Helen Pawasarat of Palatine, who served on the board of the Palatine League with Hull. “She was one of our first feminists. She was pro-choice and championed all kinds of women’s rights.”

Even before running against Crane, Hull traveled to the fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. One of the keynote speakers was then-first lady Hillary Clinton, who delivered her famous speech “Women’s Rights Are Human Rights.”

“My mother met Hillary Clinton there,” says Hull’s daughter, Barbara Patterson, “and she was very impressed.”

Elizabeth Anne Hull of Palatine has died at age 84. A former Harper College professor, Hull was known for her 1996 campaign for Congress against the longtime Republican incumbent, Phil Crane.

Elizabeth Anne Hull of Palatine has died at age 84. A former Harper College professor, Hull was known for her 1996 campaign for Congress against the longtime Republican incumbent, Phil Crane.
– Courtesy of Hull family

One year later, Hull took on Crane, opposing his stands on welfare cuts, which she said hurt poor women and children, and his leadership in trying to dismantle the National Endowment for the Arts. Hull also promoted gun control, environmental protection and a balanced budget.

“She was so proud of the race she ran and that she stood up against Phil Crane,” her daughter adds.

Hull’s colleagues agreed, though as members of the League of Women Voters, they remained neutral and could not endorse her.

“She was so well versed on all the issues and could answer any question, but it didn’t matter,” says Carolyn Roberts of Arlington Heights, a former president of the Palatine League. “He was charismatic and well-funded and everyone was taken with him.”

Crane won 62% of the vote to Hull’s 36%, but her leadership inspired many. She went on to serve as president of the Palatine League of Women Voters from 1999 to 2001 and remained active in its activities for more than 30 years.

“She was instrumental in getting the board involved in voting rights and in starting a book club,” says Roberts, who adds that Hull led their discussion on the 2014 book by former President Jimmy Carter, “A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence and Power.”

Hull promoted reading and writing during her more than 30 years as an English professor at Harper College, where she also started its Honors Program and established a scholarship named for her mother, the Elizabeth Schmick Hull Fund.

In 1984, Hull married acclaimed science fiction writer Frederik Pohl, and together they promoted the genre, though their published works and newsletters and by attending writers’ workshops and conventions. Pohl died in 2013.

Besides Patterson, Hull is survived by her daughter, Catherine Pizzaro; three stepchildren, Frederik Pohl IV, Ann Pohl and Kathy Pohl; two grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

Visitation will begin at 3 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 12, until a 7 p.m. funeral service at Ahlgrim Family Funeral Home, 201 W. Northwest Highway, Palatine.

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August 7, 2021 at 05:39PM

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