2003 Hall of Fame Inductees
RALPH GORDON JOHNSON
Ralph and Helen Johnson and their two sons, David and Gordon, moved to Park Forest in September 1957 from
student housing at the University of Chicago where Ralph was teaching and earning his Ph.D. For the next 19 years, during which time daughter Maria was born, Ralph taught invertebrate paleontology and marine biology at the U. of C. He was a scientific adviser to the Shedd Aquarium and art associate lecturer with the Field Museum; he also became very involved in the life of the village.
Ralph served on the ad hoc Problems Commission and the Plan Commission. He was a Village Trustee and then
was elected Park Forest's fifth V illage President. His term ran from 1971 to 1975 during which time the Freedom
Hall Committee was formed. Ralph did not run again because he was appointed Chairman of the Department of
Geophysical Sciences at the U. of C. However, he remained increasingly active in the Art Center (becoming president), and was on the Board of the Park Forest Orchestra (IPO would have delighted him); he was very proud of his part in saving the Thorn Creek Woods. Ralph died in September 1976.
In his real estate employment (eventually Assistant Vice President of the Mortgage Loan Department with Draper and Kramer in Chicago), Rudy became familiar with the sale of homes and rental units in Park forest. So he and wife Dorothy moved to Park Forest in 1955, where daughter Vicki was born. Almost immediately, he became an integral part of village governance: the Zoning Board of Appeals (8 years), Plan Commission (2 years) and the Housing Authority (10 years). However, he is probably remembered most for his longevity as a Village Trustee and his work in establishing the Youth Commission.
Rudy was on the Village Board for over 16 years, ranging from 1964-1966 and 1968-1985. Chairman of the Commerce Industry and Transportation committee, he was involved in the acquisition of open space lands close to the borders of Park Forest to prevent it from being developed commercially. If there was a problem to be solved in a "level-headed" manner in any area, people called on this Berlin-born, Roosevelt University-educated WWII GI who helped the US war effort with his knowledge of German. Rudy served not only the village, but the Good Shepherd Center, the South Suburban Board of Jewish Education and the Illinois Central Commuters' Association.
GEORGIA C. O'NEILL
Currently President and CEO of the Matteson Area Chamber of Commerce, which encompasses Matteson, Olympia Fields, Park Forest, Richton Park and University Park, Georgia played a key role in the merger of several village chambers to form the current organization. Effectively operating to increase the chamber's network of business contacts, she established office computerization, built a business database and enhanced the public relations and publicity efforts. A graduate of the six-year management "Institute" program sponsored by the US Chamber of Commerce, Georgia has worked in this field for 20 years. She has volunteered her expertise in a variety of agencies in and around Park Forest.
A former member of the Economic Development Advisory Group, United Way Board of Directors and Tall Grass Arts Association Board, she serves the community now on the Strategic Planning Committee, Employer's Advisory Board to Aunt Martha's and Cook County Workforce Investment Board. Georgia and Marty have lived here for 33 years, raising Terri, John and Kathleen in the village.
BLAINE "BUD" and HOPE OSTERLING
Bud and Hope, husband and wife team closely involved in village government as professionals and volunteers, came to Park Forest in 1952. Bud's dream as Village Engineer and Plan Commtsston member was to help "build the perfect community." He had a hand in the master plan for thoroughfares, public sites and recreation facilities. Bud saw the early need for regional planning in sewage systems and unincorporated areas. He is very proud of the way that the Sears' development was "shoehorned" into the Plaza complex without sacrificing too many planning principles. He eventually. became Director of Public Works, from which he retired in 1989; he was also a Rotarian with a 35-year perfect attendance record.
Hope worked as secretary to the Manager and the Village President from 1959 to 1980 when she also retired. The first person one would see upon entering Village Hall, her friendly demeanor and dry wit belied a person who kept extremely organized files. She produced the Annual Budget for the village every year, saved article's and brochures for the local history collection and coordinated all of the village parties! A member of the Garden Club, Hope was very involved with the Park Forest Toastmistress Club. The Osterlings moved to Maryland in 1997.
FREDERICK W. PETERMAN
Fred and Veta Peterman moved to Park Forest on July 3, 1953, and raised six daughters here. He is the only member of American Community Builders who has continued to live in the village, and for 50 years he has guided our development through his advice and expertise. Fred was sales and marketing director for the final, major phase of ACB's residential development -- the Lincolnwood section of town -- and through his planning the various home styles were mixed, dramatically increasing home values. He was instrumental in arranging the sale of a home to the Wilson family; the first African Americans in Park Forest in 1959, a nationally recognized event since America did not become serious about integration until the mid-sixties.
Fred continued to work with Philip Klutznick on Water Tower Place, 900 North Michigan, and other housing developments around the country. When the' village purchased the Plaza in 1995, Fred helped shape the Vision Statement and Master Plan for downtown. A member of the Economic Development Advisory Group, his efforts and contacts brought the Victory Centre Senior Complex to Main Street and he continues to develop leads for the Field's building.
The first retail store in the brand new plaza, Park Forest Liquors, was opened in November 1949 by George and Irving Taradash. The brothers quickly learned that service would be the hallmark of success, and it was! A modern day convenience store, it offered baby food, bread, milk, canned foods, check cashing, message taking and free delivery. The store served as grocery, tavern, delicatessen, candy shop and town gathering place. In the basement such organizations as the Volunteer Fire Department, Boy Scouts, Sportsmen Club and the Model Railroad Club found a home for regular meetings.
Adapting to customer needs as times changed, the store moved to larger quarters and added punchbowl and glassware rental, always maintaining customer goodwill. In 1954 they received I.W. Harper's "Highest Standards of Quality and Service" award. However, that was not all! The list of local charities the store supported financially was immense; George was a volunteer fireman, deputy policeman, and Aqua Center Board member, to name a few. George and Nancy Taradash raised Tom and Gail in the village; they moved to Chicago in 1965, and he died in 1967.