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Park Forest Hall of Fame Induction to be Held April 15

Updated April 2, 2012 (10:09 AM)

Park Forest, IL—(ENEWSPF)—April 1, 2012. The Park Forest Historical Society is proud to announce those being inducted at the 2012 Park Forest Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, to be held at Freedom Hall, 410 Lakewood Boulevard at 3:00 p.m. on April 15, 2012.  The ceremony and reception are open to the general public.

Those being inducted this year are Mary H. Davidson, Francis G. DioGuardi, Marie A. Iafollo, Leonard and Margaret McDannel, Roger D. Paris, Al and Barbara G. Sturges, and Tall Grass Arts Association. Biographies of the inductees can be found below.

To be eligible for the Hall of Fame, persons nominated must have made substantial, beneficial, and consistent contributions to the life and well-being of Park Forest over a considerable span of time.  This is the second year the society has selected one nonprofit.

For information on the Hall of Fame and the work of the Park Forest Historical Society, visit www.parkforesthistory.org


Mary Davidson has been a tireless worker for 25 years and helped transform a small art club into a major cultural contribution to the area, 

Shortly after moving to Park Forest in 1968 Mary and her late husband Glenn became members of the Park Forest Art Center, and her name became synonymous with the arts in Park Forest.

Mary served as Program Chair, Art Fair Co-chair, Art School Director, curator of the permanent collection and began Young at Art, a hands-on children’s art workshop. Mary also served as President when the Art Center moved from the Public Library to Freedom Hall and helped create the building’s Art Center gallery.

As a serious amateur photographer, Mary documented the Art Center’s exhibitions, fairs, classes and Beaux Arts Balls which she transformed into a slide presentation that was shown to various civic organizations and broadcast on local television.

Mary was a grade school teacher in both Indiana and Arcadia schools where she instilled a love of learning in her students, including an appreciation for art and environmental studies. In 1989 she was named School District 162’s Outstanding Teacher.   


Rising through the ranks from auxiliary officer to Police Chief, Francis DioGuardi devoted more than three decades of his life in distinguished service to the residents of Park Forest and served as a model citizen of the village he swore to protect.

In 1982, eleven years after joining the police force, he was named the Department’s first Director of Crime Prevention and Youth Services where he pioneered both the D.A.R.E. anti-drug, anti-violence campaign and “Stranger Danger” program in schools. Fran was instrumental in the fight against domestic violence, helping to craft the 1986 state law on the subject.

Fran was promoted to Sergeant in 1995, Commander in 1999, Captain in 2000 and Chief of Police in 2003 before retiring in 2004.

Recognized for his contributions to Park Forest, DioGuardi received the Good Egg Award in 1983 from the Park Forest Human Relations Commission. He received both the Outstanding Citizen Award from the Park Forest Jaycees and was selected Officer of the Year by Police Department in 1987. In 1989 he received the Community Service Award from the Knights of Columbus.


Leonard McDannel was a sixth grade teacher at Lakewood School, where he also served briefly as the interim principal. He subsequently taught social studies at Blackhawk Junior High School until that facility was closed in 1980. At that point, he began teaching social studies at the new Forest Trail Junior High School where he remained until his death on January 2, 1990.

Leonard was instrumental in the creation of the American Federation of Teachers local union within School District 163, with many of the organizing meetings being held at the McDannel residence. The majority of teachers in the district previously had been affiliated with the National Education Association, but through the persistent efforts of Leonard and 11 of his colleagues, three successive elections for representation were held in which the AFT challenged the NEA and ultimately was successful.

As part of the work to win that representation election, Leonard and one of his colleagues visited every teacher in District 163 at his/her home. Thanks to his efforts, the AFT continues to this day to be the official bargaining agent for District 163 teachers.


Since 1959, when she and her late husband Leonard moved to Park Forest, Margaret McDannel has spent most of her life working for the betterment of schools, housing and civic affairs.

She is currently a member of the School District 163 Board of Education, serving in almost every capacity. Margaret was President of the Board for two years, and also served terms as Vice-President and Secretary. She has been Finance Chairman for the past eight years and has been a member of the Negotiating Committee for 16 years.

Recently Margaret was honored by Cook County Clerk David Orr and the Board of Elections for her 47 years of service as an election judge. She also served as a Deputy Registrar.

Margaret was elected to the Board of Directors for Area B (now the Birch Street Townhomes) and represented that area on numerous National Housing Cooperative conventions.  She is presently the Secretary of the local Board.

Her efforts in fostering better educational opportunities include service from 1993-1995 on then State Representative John Ostenburg’s advisory committee for the selection of legislative scholarships for the Congressional District.


After teaching in Japan and Italy, Marie began teaching art in Park Forest’s Sauk Trail school in 1956 where she began a Gifted Program that was implemented for all seven District 163 schools.

Marie devised a student art fair in connection with the Park Forest Art Fair, held extensive art workshops for teachers and an extensive workshop for teachers on the use of the Montessori Method, and organized student field trips to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Art Institute.

In 1990, Marie helped start the Tall Grass Art School with donations of time and money.

In 1993, she retired as the School District’s Art Director, but returned in 1995, working with the Lyric Opera of Chicago in its “Opera in the Classroom” program where students perform an opera with the use of costumes and props.  This led to a production of “Barber of Seville” by fifth grade students at Mohawk School which was filmed by Channel 11.

She is active with the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra, the Illinois Theatre Center acting lessons program, and as a “Friend” of the Steger-South Chicago Heights Library where she teaches art classes.


Over most of the last two decades, Roger Paris has brought both his business skills and artistic creativity to the Tall Grass Arts Association and helped impact the quality of life in Park Forest.

Even before joining the Tall Grass Board in 1993, Roger was a vital member of the Art Fair committee, judging new artists hoping to exhibit at the annual event and designing the layout of each year’s Fair. He served as President of the Board in 1996. After retiring from Governors State University in 2003 he became director of the Tall Grass Art School for six years. He taught classes at the school including an “Artist’s Way” workshop, a class on short story writing, as well as digital photography for beginners, and started a weekly Open Studio and live drawing class.

Roger is an active member of the Park Forest Rotary Club; was its President in 1995 and a member of the club’s Board for six years.

A creative photographer and painter in his own right, he is a member of Tall Grass Gallery Committee and creates a yearly photography exhibit for the gallery. 


An early member and Chairman of the Park Forest Plan Commission, Al Sturges helped streamline the process for business proposals brought to the Village and worked to relax restrictions on housing co-op properties, enhancing the area’s beauty and efficiency.

He is a long-time board member of the Committee for Non-Partisan Local Government in Park Forest and served as its chair for several years.

He is currently on the Board of the Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park at Governors State University and is a coordinator for the Friends of the Park Forest Public Library’s successful “Potpourri” series of Thursday morning lectures.

For more than four decades, he has worked diligently in efforts to promote bicycling in and around Park Forest and was instrumental in placing bike racks in the Downtown area and bike lockers at the Park Forest lot of the Matteson METRA Station.  His enthusiasm on the subject extends to the numerous talks he gives about his bicycle trips to China, Africa, Central Europe and Russia.  He has served as Executive Director of the League of Illinois Bicyclists as well as president of the local Folks on Spokes bicycle club.


From the arts to civic affairs to recreation, Barbara Sturges has been connected with all things Park Forest for more than forty years.

In the 1970s she was the board secretary of the Park Forest Orchestra at the time of its reconstitution to the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra which she now serves as treasurer. She is also on the selection committee choosing a permanent conductor.

Barbara has long been active  in the League of Women Voters of the Park Forest Area, was chairman of  study on dual public office holders, served as the group’s observer on the District 227 School Board and has been the League’s Vice-President.

Along with her husband Al, Barbara has taken an active role in promoting bicycling in the South Suburbs. She served as President of Folks on Spokes, the local recreational bicycling club, and was actively involved in the creation of the Old Plank Trail Road. Both Barbara and Al campaign for increased access to cycling opportunities throughout the area, including a plan to provide a bicycle rental program in Chicago.


For more than one-half century, the Tall Grass Arts Association has been the most visible cultural asset in Park Forest and through its school, its gallery and its renowned Art Fair, has helped make the Village a bastion of the arts.

The Tall Grass Arts Association is almost as old at the Village of Park Forest.  It began as an art club and incorporated in 1956 as the Park Forest Art Center. In the 1990s it was renamed “Tall Grass,” reflecting its growth as a regional center for artists and the arts. Since the 1950s it has hosted a gallery that features exhibits of primarily local artists, but often artists of national and international stature.  

The 56-year-old Park Forest Art Fair, sponsored by Tall Grass, attracts artists from across the country and Canada displaying a variety of media from painting and photography, to jewelry, glass, wood and fiber arts.

The Tall Grass Art School offers classes to children and adults, including watercolor and acrylic painting, photography, knitting and weaving. Classes for young adults have been offered in cooperation with a local high school district and offsite at Glenwood School for Boys.




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