PORTAGE PARK — The longtime owner of Di’s Den bar in Portage Park, the beloved “Lady Di” who made regulars feel at home and regularly raised money for charities, has died from coronavirus.
Diana Jun, who ran the bar at 5100 W. Irving Park Road for 42 years, died on Easter. She was 86.
“I don’t know how but unfortunately the virus got a hold of her,” said Jan Wilson, Jun’s daughter.
Regulars gave Jun the name “Lady Di.” They saw her as a mother who served up drinks and tough love.
Wilson started working with her mom at the bar 10 years ago. Her mom was the “starting pitcher” while she was only a “relief pitcher,” she said.
“She welcomed everyone and made them feel at home,” Wilson said. “She always had time for a hug, a cup of coffee or to give someone an ear to bend. Customers thought of her as a mom who loved you but wasn’t afraid to give you tough love and tell you what you needed to do.”
After showing symptoms of the virus, Wilson called an ambulance for her mother March 21.
“One of my sisters is a nurse at AMITA Resurrection hospital where my mother was and would check daily on her,” Wilson said. “But even then the isolation was hard. We couldn’t touch my mother in the last days of her life and were only able to speak to her over the phone.”
The funeral procession of two cars, one carrying the late Lady Di, passed by Di’s Den on Friday to let her say goodbye to her home away from home one last time, Wilson said.
Wilson knew her mother was beloved by the Potage Park community, but the messages of support she got after Jun’s death really brought home the impact she had on the Northwest Side.
“It’s eye opening as a daughter to see the impact my mom had on a neighborhood and on all the people who came into the bar,” Wilson said. “It’s a bit overwhelming but I’m so glad I was able to work alongside her for as long as I did.”
Jun hosted raffles at the bar to raise money for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, the Wounded Warrior Project and breast cancer and Alzheimer’s research. She also collected toys every year for Toys for Tots, and she was a eucharistic minister at St. Rosalie Church in suburban Harwood Heights.
“My mom had a very compassionate heart. Fundraising was part of nearly everything we did at Di’s Den,” Wilson said. “This 5-foot-2-inch woman touched so many lives.”
Jun was also a strong supporter of the city’s steel-tip darts leagues. Di’s Den is the largest steel-tip dart bar in the city and before the dine-in ban regularly hosted tournaments.
“My mother was a huge advocate and promoter of darts in Chicago. Anyone who wanted to learn to shoot, she taught them. She was always happy to show young darters about the game and get involved in the leagues,” Wilson said.
Wilson, 63, contracted the virus while caring for her mother before calling 911. She was hospitalized for seven days but has been home recovering for the past three weeks.
After experiencing how intense the COVID-19 infection is herself, Wilson is amazed her elderly mother was able to battle it for as long as she did.
“It’s a terrible virus,” Wilson said. “She was one of the most loving people I knew but she was also one tough cookie. She fought that virus and was tenacious up until the very end.”
Di’s Den is closed until Illinois lifts its dine-in ban. Once the bar can safely reopen, Wilson plans to host a proper memorial for her mother so the community can gather and celebrate Lady Di’s life.
“She loved being around everyone so much. The bar really was her home away from home. She adored all the guys and made them feel the same way,” Wilson said. “She loved being a part of their lives.”
Jun is survived by four children, three grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and her sister. Jun’s husband, Frank, died 18 years ago.
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