1997 Hall of Fame Inductees
Rhoda Adler's dedication to her work in blood banking for the past 17 years has made an immense impact on the entire community and has earned her countless local and national awards. She coordinates approximately 50 blood drives per year with United Blood Services -- arranging locations, encouraging community groups as sponsors, enlisting senior citizens to make reminder phone calls, publicizing in magazines and in local newspapers and on cable television, and keeping the public up-to-date on special interest stories and severe blood shortages.
Ten years ago, Rhoda merged the Park Forest and Richton Park Blood programs, added new sites and increased the number of drives in order to give people an opportunity to donate more often. She keeps meticulous records on donors; she is currently working with children and young teenagers to bring in new donors while earning their "I Make the Difference" United Blood Services badge.
Rhoda and Herb Adler have lived in the same house in Park Forest since 1965, where they raised three children.
Ron moved to Park Forest in 1969 because he knew it was a community where all races could work together in harmony. A village trustee from 1974-1981, he was elected the first African-American village president. During his 1981-1986 presidency, Norwood and Blackhawk Centers were redeveloped and a Tax Increment Financing plan initiated Cordish and Embry's Centre redevelopment attempts. He has held positions on the boards of the Bank of Matteson, Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra, Goodman Theatre, and the PACE Advisory Board, and as secretary of the GSLI Foundation, among others.
Ron is especially proud of several initiatives supported by his leadership as village president: the professional Park Forest Symphony with an initial budget of $20,000 was born and grew into 1996's Orchestra of Illinois award winning IPO; the successful venture of Garden House, a new type of senior housing; and the village festival called PIZZAZZ, which celebrated the variety and goodness that is Park Forest. The Beans and their five children moved to Olympia Fields in 1986; Ron remains active in regional planning.
Harold and Rose Carol Brown moved to Park Forest in 1955, raised five children, and found time to be active in almost every phase of community volunteerism. When Westwood School was built across the street from their home in 1956, Harold joined the many parents who helped supply basic necessities (e.g. coat hooks) and the elbow grease to install them. He says he was "hooked" then and hasn't let go since! He became chief fundraiser and later PFA president and then served as a member and president of the school board for both Districts 163 and 227 for a total of 14 years.The Browns have sponsored annual Non-Partisan Committee coffee forums in their home for 41 years. Harold also has served as committee president. But their recent involvement with the village's Mediation Task Force has kept them as busy as ever. Originally trained by the Justice Department, the Task Force has since written its own manual to train replacement members and the Justice Department has referred three other communities to Park Forest for their training. Harold and Rose Carol are also Hearing Officers for the village's Administrative Adjudication program.
ROSE CAROL BROWN
In addition to serving with Harold in many of the above mentioned community activities, Rose Carol has volunteered at the Well Child Clinic for the past 20 years. She still participates in two health clinics per month. A lifetime involvement with children began with her own as a PTA officer, Cub Scout den mother, 4-H leader and American Fields Service board member who hosted a student from Paraguay (still considered part of the family) for a year. Rose Carol's stint on the Human Relations Commission set the stage for the Browns' foray into mediation, she is presently on the board of Aunt Martha's and delivers books to shut-ins for the Park Forest Public Library.
It came as no surprise to Park Foresters that Harold and Rose Carol Brown received Cook County Sheriff Michael Sheahan's "Senior Medal of Honor Award" in 1996. This award is given once a year to those senior citizens from Cook County who best represent the spirit of' volunteerism. The Browns continue to exemplify the finest in community service.
ROSS DE LUE
Ross and Leona De Lue and their four-year old daughter moved to Park Forest in August, 1948. Not only did they make a life-long commitment to this new village, they worked hard to create the sense of community that we yet enjoy today. Ross was a member of the original committee that formed the village government. He also was on the organizing body to establish both a grade school and a high school district--which ultimately became the envy of the entire south suburban area -- in a community that lacked both building and staff. Ross was a member of the school board that was responsible for the construction of Dogwood School, and served on the bylaws committee for the newly opened Westwood Elementary and Junior High School.
As chairman of the Park Forest 20th Anniversary celebration, he coordinated the many activities involved. Over the years, he was active in a number of committees that helped shape the village government and was instrumental in establishing the committee for Non-Partisan Elections, serving as chairman for several years.
LEONA B. DE LUE
Leona and Ross De Lue are often cited as the first residents of Park Forest; they certainly are the couple who has lived in the village the longest! Leona was a charter member and first administrative vice-president of the National Council of Jewish Women, Park Forest section, when it was formed in May 1949. As president from 1959 to 1962, and National Board member from 1967 to 1969, she was a part of the founding of the Golden Age club, Handy Camp Association for handicapped children, Manteno Mental Hospital visitation, Women in Community Service (WICS), Teen Employment Agency, Safety Town, and Aunt Martha's.
A member of the Bicentennial Commission during 1974-1976 which solicited funds and built Freedom Hall, she served on the Freedom Hall Commission and as its chairman from 1978 to 1985. She has been a volunteer for Ludeman Center, and has served as an election judge for over 40 years.
E.C. (EDDIE) AND MARGARET EDWARDS
Eddie and Margaret Edwards came to Park Forest in 1962, and operated as a team in all their endeavors -- as owners of Oppenheimer Electric Contracting Company, as founders of the Park Forest Chamber of Commerce, and as the driving force behind the Park Forest Economic Development Corporation. When Eddie's poor health frequently sidelined his unique leadership and organizational skills, Margaret stepped in to help implement the plans.
Eddie's vision of an active awareness of the importance of all Park Forest's enterprises to the economic health of the village during the troublesome years of a slowly dying central plaza often went unnoticed by the general populous. The actions of the Chamber of Commerce and EDC were valiant attempts to stem the tide of failure and were ultimately too little too late, and eventually proved futile. Eddie died in 1990 but not before he brought University Park and Richton Park into the Chamber of Commerce of the Parks -- eventually adding Matteson and Olympia Fields to become the active local area Chamber.
In their service club work, Margaret (Altrusa) and Eddie (long time member and president of Rotary) both demonstrated idealism, moral vision, and courageous leadership as they nurtured the spirit of Park Forest.