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Park Forest Historical Society Announces 2010 Hall Of Fame Inductees

Fr. Terry Johnson

The Park Forest Historical Society will welcome its class of 2010 on April 18. (Graphic Supplied)

Park Forest, IL–(ENEWSPF)– The Park Forest Historical Society will hold the annual Park Forest Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, April 18, 2010 at 3 p.m. in Freedom Hall, 410 Lakewood Blvd in Park Forest. The event is open to the general public. Admission is free.

Eight are being inducted this year for contributions to Park Forest over a long period of time. They are Ivan A. Baker, Christine R. Blue, Mae R. Brandon, Diana Cruz, Jerrold Loebl, Norman J. Schlossman, and Jerry and Penny Shnay. The awards to Baker, Loebl and Schlossman are being presented posthumously.

Ivan A. “Ike” Baker was a tireless and passionate worker for equal educational opportunity and spearheaded desegregation efforts during his 20-year tenure as Superintendent of Park Forest School District 163.

His major achievement was a successful effort in addressing the issue of integration on a voluntary basis before it was mandated by the courts. Under his leadership and that of the school board, students, faculty and staff were fully integrated by both race and gender.

For the last 16 years, until her retirement in January, Christine Blue tended to the vital health care needs of the community as Director of the Park Forest Health Department, making a long-lasting contribution to the health and welfare of Park Forest.

As director, Christine helped maintain the health department as a vital force in village life and did so despite cuts in staff and increased competition from other health care agencies. She did so by fostering and implementing successful health care programs like “CHIPS” , diabetes awareness, the 10-Ton Challenge, Access to Care and Place Matters..

In addition, Christine has been the manager for the village’s successful Farmers Market and served as president of the Park Forest Rotary Club.

Volunteer work and civic service are the hallmarks of Mae Brandon’s contribution to Park Forest. Her volunteer efforts began with involvement with School District 163 as a room mother, PTO President, outdoor education program Coordinator and work on special committees. Despite having no daughters, Mae was a Girl Scout leader.

She was a member of the district’s initiative for reorganization to implement peaceful integration in the schools. As such she worked in various ad hoc committees to focus groups designed to improve understanding between Park Forest and Chicago Heights communities.

Appointed Village Trustee in 2003, and elected for two full three-year terms in 2004 and 2007, Mae continues to serve Park Forest residents. She says it is a responsibility not taken lightly as she strives to make decisions which will have a positive impact on the quality of life in Park Forest.

For more than 50 years, the Park Forest Art Fair has generated positive publicity for Park Forest, and for the last 25 years Diana Cruz has been the heart and soul of the Art Fair.

In the her role as secretary of Tall Grass Arts Association, Diana does everything from taking minutes of meetings to recruiting new artists for the Art Fair, keeping an on-going inventory of all artists as well as solving their problems. She has handled the major activities required to put on the Fair from fundraising to finding judges, and both setting up and the taking down of the booths.

As a partner in the architecture and planning firm, Loebl, Schlossman and Bennett, the late Jerrold Loebl was responsible for the design of Park Forest, not by designing a building, a house, or an intersection, but the larger whole–the village. He believed that good design could lead to good living and good lives. His plan for Park Forest represented an integrated living space for people of different social and economic levels. His design was a carefully conceived vision for an ideal world.

The Plaza shopping center was part and parcel of the design. Anchored by Marshall Field’s and later Sears, the center was intended to replicate the collective buying and selling experiences of a community that grew up over time. Along with larger retail establishments, there was a grocery store, a bookstore, a deli, and children’s clothing stores.

Everything was within walking distance, allowing the shopper to meet and greet fellow citizens. Just as the variety of housing was intended to encourage diversity (in an age when that word did not exist), the shopping center was intended to solidify this new community.

In order to create this village, he hired specialists to design the street layout, others with experience in school, church and synagogue design, and park design. The new, modern, ideal city required a new, modern, ideal architectural firm–one that responded to the needs of the whole as nimbly and elegantly as they did to the needs of an individual.

Probably Norman J. Schlossman’s greatest tribute was the community of Park Forest which he helped design and build. At the time of its inception, the new town of Park Forest was by far the most significant project Norman Schlossman and his firm, Loebl, Schlossman and Bennett had ever contemplated or been involved in.

The scope of this immense undertaking challenged the brightest minds and the talents of everyone, especially its architectural component, of which he was a key principal. He remained forever proud of Park Forest and the part he played.

Throughout Park Forest’s many years of development, Norman Schlossman oversaw and coordinated the design and construction process with the planning and building team. He was hands-on throughout.

Norman Schlossman and his firm, Loebl, Schlossman and Bennett, were pivotal in initiating and bringing to fruition the extraordinary community which provided affordable living in a natural environment; a community which created an entire new way of life for thousands of families.

Jerry Shnay was a newspaper reporter and editor for more than 40 years, including 30 years with the Chicago Tribune. After retirement he became part of the Village’s 50th Anniversary Committee, which led to his work as the Village’s Public Information Officer for nine years. He helped Park Forest get to the All-America City finals both in 2000 and 2006 by crafting both the application for the award and the final presentation to the judges. He also upgraded the Village newsletter from six pages to a full-color 24-page magazine.

Jerry compiled the book Park Forest: Dreams and Challenges which depicts the history of Park Forest through more than 200 archival photographs. Published in 2001, the book, now in its second printing, is sold throughout the world and is in the British Museum’s American Archives collection.

As President of the Historical Society for eight years, he helped establish the Society’s 1950s Park Forest House Museum and for the past two years has written a bi-monthly column on people and events in the community for the Southtown Star.

Penny Shnay served the community as teacher at Talala School for 23 years, and later taught prospective teachers at Governors State University. As a teacher she impacted the lives of hundred of children and adults.

She has served as  a Board member on the local chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women and the South Suburban Synagogue. She is currently co-President of the B’nai Yehuda Beth Sholom Sisterhood, and is an active member of Kiwanis.

Penny has been active as an officer of the League of Women Voters of the Park Forest Area, and currently is Secretary of the LWVof Cook County. For 19 years, Penny has been a member of the Park Forest Public Library Board, and is in her second term as President. As President, she helped promote the Library as the most-used facility in the village and is helping to see the current renovation to completion.

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