LANSING | Council 3540 of the Knights of Columbus is decorated for the holidays these days, with tiny Christmas stockings hanging around the bar for all the regulars.
Included is a stocking for Gena Chiodo, the Calumet City woman who disappeared in October and whose body was formally identified on Monday.
Chiodo considered the K of C hall at 178th Street and Lorenz Avenue to be, “like a second family,” said Patty Nasella, of Lansing. The people who hang out there were her closest friends.
And it was to that bar they converged Monday after work to comfort each other after learning it was definite their friend was dead.
Chiodo’s stocking, with her name “Gena” done in gold, was moved to a prominent place at the front of the bar.
Nasella said the group gathered Monday to help each other deal with grief.
“We’re pulling together for support,” she said. “This is a traumatic experience for all of us.”
The gang from the K of C Hall was the group that searched through wooded areas near Chiodo’s home on Price Avenue in hope of finding evidence that would help the police investigation.
While they never found anything in the way of evidence, Calumet City Police Chief Edward L. Gilmore said he has a soft spot for Chiodo’s friends.
“They touched my heart when they conducted their own search,” he said.
Despite the sadness, Barbara Knight, of Lansing, said she will have fond memories of Chiodo, noting the group held a memorial service for Gena last month at the hall.
“She had an infectious laugh and a vivid sense of humor,” Knight said. “Every time she’d open her mouth, she’d say something that would make you laugh.”
Knight also recalled going to Chiodo’s house at times to get her hair cut.
“You wouldn’t want to leave,” she said.
Ray Kolanowski, a neighbor of Chiodo, called her a “nice, quiet lady."
He said she rarely interacted with neighbors because she was devoted to her work as a hairstylist, most recently at the Hair Cuttery salon in Munster.
Kolanowski said Chiodo and live-in boyfriend Donol Clark were considering moving to Munster during the upcoming year so she could be closer to her work and her friends.
“They barbecued, they watched baseball,” he said. “They were nice people.”
Not convinced, at least as far as Clark is concerned, is Nasella, She said she intends to show up regularly for Clark’s appearances at the 6th District Cook County Circuit Court in Markham, where she said he gave her a “smirk” as he was led out of the courtroom.
Clark faces charges of murder and concealment of a homicide. He is scheduled to appear again Jan. 3.
“He’s not getting away from me. I want to be there when he goes away,” to prison, Nasella said.