1996 Hall of Fame Inductees
Jim Marzuki has been called a modern-day Renaissance Man whose range of interests, skills and activism is wide and far-reaching. His 24-year career in the arts as teacher and division chair at Rich East as well as his being a lifelong practicing artist are almost dwarfed by his leadership roles with the 40-year old Park Forest Art Fair. Along with his late wife Mary Lou, Jim was an early and active volunteer at the Art Center. He was the prime mover in the development of the Art Fair as a juried event, its reputation as one of the most prestigious, quality fairs in the Midwest continues to draw artists from across the Midwest and attendees from throughout the metropolitan area. His government service included 10 years as member or Chair of the Park Forest Plan Commission, six years as village trustee, and one term as 80th District state representative, where he championed many issues he has devoted his life to supporting. Jim's leadership in the environmental area has spanned decades, and he is very proud of his partnership with Mary Lou in founding the Thorn Creek Preservation Association. He served as President of Friends of Thorn Creek and was a member of the Thorn Creek Management Commission. Jim died in August, 2000.
MARY LOU MARZUKI
The single most influential person in the 20-year community effort to acquire the 900-acre Thorn Creek Woods Nature Preserve in 1981 was Mary Lou Marzuki. Her superb organizational and relationship-building skills and her tireless, behind-the-scenes efforts to implement cooperative strategies led not only to its success, but also to her appointment by Gov. James Thompson to the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission, where she served as chair. A true conservation activist, Mary Lou was assistant director of the Open Lands Project, and advocated for the Friends of the Chicago River to promote a cleaner riverfront, the Lockport Prairie, and the Illinois & Michigan Canal Heritage Corridor, so designated by Congress. The Marzukis came to Park Forest in 1956, and raised daughter Marcy here. Mary Lou died in 1984. The Mary Lou Marzuki Natural Areas fund was created in 1988 to continue her legacy of working to preserve and enhance open space for public enjoyment.
J. RON McLEOD
Ron McLeod's life-long vocation as a fundraiser and his community service since 1950 have enabled Park Foresters to enjoy both the tangible and intangible benefits of his dedication. Ron was the co-organizer and first director of the Park Forest Community Chest and is still active with its successor United Way, which has raised more than two million dollars for local services over the past 42 years. Appointed Chair of the Park Forest Bicentennial Commission in 1975, Ron and 100 active members raised over $150,000 in two years to furnish Freedom Hall, including Manilow Theatre. President of the Park Forest Lions Club and its district governor, Ron helped organize Park Forest Baseball and worked to build Lions Field. (He remembers when current Amoco Chairman Larry Fuller was a star player in Park Forest.) Ron served three terms as village trustee, chaired the Home Rule referendum and 911 emergency response committees, and he is active at his church. A widower with two adult daughters, Ron's family grew when he married Joanne in 1983; his recent retirement allows more time for their seven grandchildren.
ALICE B. RACHER
A physician for more than 30 years, president of PTA's at every level, board member of the Art Center, Congregation Beth Sholom, the Non-partisan Committee, and GSU's TALE (The Adult Learning Experience,) Alice is probably most well known now for her 21 years of service as president, vice-president, and member of the library board. She helped found the Friends of the Park Forest Public Library, a strong and supportive ally of the library, and co-chaired (with Ron McLeod) the Gateway to Information project, which raised funds to provide the CDROM Local Area Network now available to patrons. Alice's life-long involvement in racial integration and human relations issues, combined with her 25-year service to the Cook County Public Health Department, led her to spearhead a successful drive for a community center in what was then East Chicago Heights where medical clinics as well as neighborhood gatherings could be housed. She also helped establish the Dr. Charles E. Gavin Foundation and its Gavin Women's Auxiliary in 1971, and still continues to be involved in their philanthropies.
EMANUEL M. RACHER
The Doctors Racher met in graduate school at the University of Chicago, married, and attended different medical schools together--Manny at Creighton and Alice at the University of Nebraska. They came to Park Forest in 1954, and immediately began making contributions to the quality of life in the village while raising their three children. Manny's nearly 30-year local medical practice, where he was known as a "concerned, caring physician with a hands-on approach to patients and their families," was juxtaposed with his 23-year membership and chairmanship of the Park Forest Health Council. Always concerned about affordable health care, Manny used his considerable talent and charm to ensure that no one was ever turned away from medical service because of lack of insurance or inability to pay. The Rachers have been described as "givers" in a world of "takers"--their often anonymous gifts of time, talent, and monetary help to friends, neighbors and strangers have endeared them to everyone who has known them during the last 40 years.
MARGE FRIEDMAN SCHERR
An exhaustive list of civic, governmental, educational, social, political, religious, artistic and altruistic endeavors that Marge's lifetime of involvement in the village and south suburban area has compiled does little justice to the personal warmth and compassion lying behind her beliefs and commitments. Living proof of the time-worn adage that "the best things come in little packages," this GOOD EGG award winner has been elected villa-e clerk and trustee, as well as serving as president, chair, advisor, board member, commissioner, or just plain volunteer in every segment of our community life. Marge and her late husband Arnold Friedman's three children were the catalyst for her volunteer work in education, which ran the gamut from Head Start programs, Camp Fire Girls, Prairie State and Governors State. Her continuing interest in the arts led to her longtime association with the Park Forest Art Center and its many projects; she has entertained such literary figures as Isaac Singer, Gwendolyn Brooks and Studs Terkel, among others, in her home. Marge married George Scherr, fellow scientist and long-time friend of Arnold Friedman, in 1990. They continue to open their lovely home for various community functions. CHARLES WALDMANN When Charles Waldmann left the National Housing Agency to join ACB's team in 1946, Philip Klutznik obtained the services of a civil, electrical and mechanical engineer from the Royal Academy in Budapest who had overseen the construction of war industry projects and the Greenbelt towns outside Washington, D.C., a skilled negotiator, and a warm, energetic man with a marvelous sense of humor. As primary engineer of the basic services to be provided to the new community--water, sewage disposal, electricity and fuel--Charlie needed all of these skills. To pursue the vision of a clean community,he single-handedly negotiated with the top public service specialists (often all at once) to obtain natural gas and insisted on underground power lines in the multi-family area and across streets in the single-family areas. Charlie Waldmann oversaw the construction of the state-approved sewer treatment plant and the water treatment and softening plant, and he established the Park Forest Water Company. While son Thomas left to pursue a medical degree, his wife Elizabeth founded a nursery school here. Charlie died in 1951, but we honor his legacy every time we drink our excellent village water.