Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Zenza Anita Laws built a 30-year career in education as a teacher and principal in West Side and South Side Chicago Catholic schools. She died after a 2-year battle with cancer on September 21.
    She began her professional career teaching 5th grade at Holy Angels Elementary School. Ms Laws returned to the West Side where she grew up to teach at St. Mel, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Martin de Porres Elementary Schools. She built a reputation as an excellent and caring teacher who challenged her students to reach their full potentials. She was also a tough but fair disciplinarian. Ms Laws was known as a dynamic and passionate teacher. Her energy in the classroom was contagious. She strove to create discussion and debate whenever possible. She had a particular love for the English language and often grilled her students on grammar and punctuation.
    Her students frequently joined her and her family on weekends for family gatherings and on family outings. In addition to teaching, Ms Laws coached volleyball and cheerleading teams, directed student plays, and organized African American heritage observances.
    After almost 20 years in the classroom, Ms Laws became an administrator. After obtaining her graduate degree, she became the Principal of the Academy of St. Benedict the African on Chicago’s South Side, and served there for ten years. Just as she was a trailblazer and motivator, she brought the same strength and leadership to her role as Principal. She led St. Benedict through years of expanded growth and improvement. She spent the last years of her career as a Principal in Forest Park.
    Zenza Anita Laws was born in Chicago on November 25, 1958, to Lois and Milton Brown. She joined United Baptist Church under the leadership of Reverend Wilson Daniels, and remained an active member until her death.
    Zenza graduated from Lucy Flower Vocational High School. She earned Bachelor of Arts Degrees in Communications and Education from Rosary College. While attending college, she met and fell in love with Joseph Laws. They were married November 30, 1979. Nearly 20 years later, while teaching and raising her family, Ms Laws earned a Master of Arts Degree in Education Administration from Dominican University.
    Zen was preceded in death by her aunt, Erma Anthony, her grandmother, Ellen Ward, and her sister Yauletus Bridge. She is survived by her husband, Joseph W. Laws, Jr.; her son, Joseph W. Laws III; her two daughters, Zenita Laws and Veronique Laws; her mother, Lois Anthony Brown; her father, Milton Brown; her sisters, Paula Brownlee & Yaquala Gant (Timothy); her brothers, Yaumilton & Hesley (Angela); aunts, Willie L. Bryant, Ciritha Nathan of Colorado Springs, Colorado, Evelyn Taylor of Memphis, Tennessee, and Earsey Lottis of Fresno, California; and uncle William Brown of Memphis; plus numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, in-laws, friends, and hundreds of former students who remember her fondly.
    The wake for Zenza Anita Laws is being held at 10:00 AM, Saturday, October 1, at United Baptist Church, 4242 West Roosevelt Road. Funeral service follows at 11:00 AM, with Reverend Wilson Daniels officiating. She is being buried in Oakridge Cemetery in Hillside.


  1. Never know ewww she passed until now. She we think on to do GREAT things I see. I was her student at holy angels, and remember she would pick 3 of is to spend the wkend with her... I never made it lol. She was tough, but she was fair... RIH honey.

    1. Means a lot that her students from years and years ago still remember her. Thanks for sharing - Joseph W. Laws, III

  2. ...sorry, supposed to read "Never knew",this crazy phone.