Shnay: Five people, Nurses Club enter Park Forest Hall of Fame
By Jerry Shnay Citizen Journalistemail@example.com March 7, 2013 12:50PM
Updated: April 11, 2013 6:21AM
The word for today is “benefit,” as in the following sentence: The five people and the one group named to the 2013 Park Forest Hall of Fame have been a benefit to the village for decades.
John Joyce, retired director of the parks and recreation department, and fire Capt. William Tilley both served Park Forest for nearly 40 years. Alicia Rodman McCray has been a lifelong champion for fair housing, education and the arts.
Marlene and Jim Gallagher stamped their mark on the cultural life of the community, and the Park Forest Nurses Club contributed both effort and money to the welfare of the village for more than 50 years.
Get the idea?
Each year, the Park Forest Historical Society, of which this writer is secretary, selects those who have given time and effort to the community to be enshrined into the Hall of Fame.
This year’s induction is April 14 at Freedom Hall. Nearly 140 have been named to the hall during the last 19 years.
I’ve written before about Joyce and the Nurses Club, but they are worth repeating.
At the age of 28, Joyce became the village’s parks and recreation director, beginning a five-decade career as both the caretaker and visionary for Park Forest.
Under his direction, the village developed the Thorn Creek Nature Preserve, took over operation of the privately owned health and tennis club, helped create the 22-mile-long Old Plank Trail Road recreational path and created the Central Park wetlands.
For more than 55 years, the nurses club helped take care of health needs in the community and awarded a total of about $156,000 in nursing scholarships in increments of $1,000 to $2,000.
This type of generosity pays itself forward. That nurse who brought aid and comfort to you or your family could well have been helped by a nurses club scholarship.
Last year, when its remaining members decided to close the books, the club’s final act was to donate $50,000 to endow a nursing scholarship program at Prairie State College in Chicago Heights.
From her service as a village trustee in the 1990s to current school board president in Matteson School District 162, McCray has toiled for more than 40 years to make a difference in education, housing, health and the arts in Park Forest.
She served as commissioner and vice chairman of the Housing Authority of Cook County, as a board member of the Friends of the Park Forest Health Department and as president of the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra Board in 2003.
Tilley joined the volunteer division of the Park Forest Fire Department in 1973, and for nearly 40 years served the village as a dedicated responder to everything from scraped knees to large fires in Park Forest and neighboring communities — moving up the ranks to become captain of the department’s paid-on-call division, the highest rank available.
Before his death in 1983, Jim Gallagher was a member of the original Freedom Hall Citizens Commission — a group whose efforts in raising funds for, and building, the only municipally operated cultural arts center in the south suburbs was a factor in helping Park Forest win its second All-America City award.
Marlene, a prominent photographer, helped support the arts through her work with the Tall Grass Arts Association, Illinois Theatre Center, the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra and numerous art galleries in the area until her death last year.
The word for today is “benefit.”