Barbara Hochberg, 1st woman Chicago federation chair

NEW YORK — Barbara Hochberg, chairwoman of the Jewish Federation/Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago, has died. She was 58.

A longtime leader in the Chicago Jewish community, Hochberg, who died of cancer, was the first woman to lead the Chicago Jewish federation in its 98-year history.

"We have lost a dear friend and a wonderful leader," said Steven Nasatir, president of the federation.

Born in Chicago, Hochberg graduated from Northwestern University and then taught at local elementary schools. After her husband, Larry, founded Sportmart in 1971, she joined him in the business, eventually serving as general merchandise manager for the sporting goods chain. She was the first female board member of the National Sporting Goods Association.

In the Jewish community, Barbara Hochberg was active in Hillel since attending Northwestern, serving as chair of the Hillels of Illinois Governing Commission and a member of the governing body of international Hillel.

On the national level, she was a member of the Council of Jewish Federations' board of delegates and the Council of Jewish Federations' executive committee. She also served on the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee's board of directors and co-chaired the JDC's Israel-area committee.