Dori Wilson, a well-known Chicago publicist and former model who broke barriers, has passed away, her longtime assistant confirmed to NBC 5 Tuesday.
Further details on Wilson's death weren't immediately released, but the Chicago Sun-Times reports Wilson, who was in her 70s, died in her sleep hours after attending a friend's funeral.
Wilson moved to Chicago as a child from her hometown of Winona, Mississippi and went on to graduate from Hyde Park High School and Roosevelt University.
She worked at various advertising firms while also maintaining a part-time modeling career, which would ultimately see her become the first Black runway model in the city, working for Marshall Field's and Carson Pirie Scott, according to her biography and interviews with The History Makers.
She continued her career in advertising, also working to help cast and produce various shows while still modeling and generating a coveted list of contacts - contacts she would eventually use to start her own firm, Dori Wilson Public Relations, solidifying her as a successful and again barrier-breaking entrepreneur.
“When I opened my own business, [I] was judged by my color,” she told Start TV in a recent interview. “But again I didn’t let it stop me. I just kept at it. I never set out to break barriers, I just set out to do what I had to do.”
Her public relations firm said in a statement on Facebook that Wilson was "an authentic trailblazer, pioneer, and entrepreneur."
"Dori’s public relations firm was widely respected nationwide and served a broad cross-section of iconic businesses and community-minded organizations. She raised the bar among those serving public good," the statement read. "As a business owner, she brought boundless energy, wicked humor, friendship and a deep knowledge of her craft as exemplified by her many awards and recognitions. She was a vocal advocate of Chicago. Our City has lost a real legend and civic champion."