2006 Hall of Fame Inductees
There is nothing more important to a community than qualified teachers who successfully prepare their students for life beyond high school. And Keith Hauge was just such a teacher. He taught Industrial Arts at Rich East High School for 32 years and, as he says, he "had the ideal classroom setting to encourage students who were not the bookish type but just as important as the valedictorian." Head sponsor of sophomore and junior classes and the Student Council for years, Keith promoted participation in extra curricular activities at all levels. Upon his retirement, Keith founded the local Illinois Education Associations' Retired Educators Chapter and is part of a college mentoring program for future teachers. Keith and his late wife Mary Lou raised their four children in the village and all participated in a wide variety of activities in the community and at Faith United Protestant Church. He managed a Park Forest Boys Baseball team for seven years and had a hand in many projects at the Art Center, Art Fair, Old Plank Road Trail and the Nature Center. Keith taught Adult Woodworking classes for years, fostering the same careful attention to detail and pride in ac-complishment with older students as he did with our village youth.
JANET R. MUCHNIK
A public servant par excellance, Janet has given at least 22 years of her life in both an elected and appointed capacity to the betterment of the village she loves. Board member and president of School District #163 for a total of eight years, she was also a three-term Village Trustee before she was awarded a fellowship in Public Administration and returned to school. Appointed Park Forest's Village Manager after she had served as Director of Planning in Blue Island and City Manager of Country Club Hills, Janet recently retired after 10 years. Among the first women Village Managers in the state, her tenure was highlighted by her guidance of the village through the conversion of the Park Forest Plaza into DownTown Park Forest. These plans earned national recognition and awards from the American Planning Association and the American Public Works Associations as well as the prestigious Burnham Award. Janet's efforts were tireless in the creation of a Cultural Arts Building in DownTown housing the Illinois Theater Centre, Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra, Grande Prairie Singers and the Tall Grass Arts Association. An ardent supporter of the arts and the League of Women Voters' House Tour, she is now president of Tall Grass; she was an Athena Award finalist and received the Abby Foundation's Woman of the Year Award. Janet and Mel raised their three sons here during their many years of service to the community.
DR. MEL MUCHNIK
Mel says that he is the man "who escorted Janet to Park Forest." One of the pioneers who came here to build a university in the 1970s, Mel worked for the first three presidents of Governors State in various capacities in the communications field. His career included a nine-year stint as Special Assistant to the President of GSU for new communications. Mel was appointed Professor Emeritus by the Board of Trustees while he was completing a Fulbright scholarship at the University of South Australia. He was honored with the GSU Faculty Excellence Award in 2000 and 2002, and retired in 2003. His technological expertise led to his service as Chairman of the Task Force on Cable Television, which wrote a model franchise ordinance. He then chaired the Park Forest Cable Commission for many years. Mel served on the Freedom Hall Committee and also on the Recreation and Parks Commission that established Memorial Park. He has been very active with the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra for years and now serves as President of the IPO Board. However, perhaps Mel is best known as the voice of the Park Forest Scenic 10. For more than 22 years, he has been an integral part of our Labor Day 10-mile race-the race that the runners themselves have called the best race in Chicago for 18 of those years. Mel has announced both the LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon and Shamrock Shuffle, but he is most proud of his role in the Scenic 10 in Park Forest.
JON D. STEINMETZ
Jon has always felt that Park Forest is a great community in which to live, raise children and retire. He was elected to public office three times to enact policies that would make this a reality. But now he and Jane will start a new chapter in their retirement in Hendersonville, NC, within a month or two. During Jon's tenure as Village Trustee, the Board tackled issues both large (buying the downtown, authorizing the new water plant and fire station, and of course hiring a wonderful village manager) and small (moving a thorn bush at a citizen's request). His temperament, sense of humor and voice of reason helped a sometimes contentious board to frequently achieve consensus. Jon's reasoned decision-making skills also proved useful on the Mediation Task Force. He reorganized and computerized the membership rolls as treasurer of the Non-Partisan committee. When his children joined the various sporting activities available to youth in the village, Jon coached his son's baseball teams and managed his daughter's softball teams. As a League president, he spent many hours recruiting umpires and getting ball fields ready to play. He was also president of the Rich East Booster Club. Jon will always remember his work with the youth of Park Forest with fondness.
Jane arrived in Park Forest in August 1963 for her job as a school psychologist in Chicago Heights District #170. Marriage, parenthood and community service began soon thereafter. She was secretary of the fledgling Dr. Charles E. Gavin Memorial Foundation for several years as its clinic got off the ground. She wrote and edited her children's elementary and junior high school newsletters for four years, the League of Women Voters Intercom for 20 years and the bios for the Hall of Fame inductees as an officer of the Historical Society for 13 years. Jane was president of the Non-Partisan committee, co-chair of the League's House Tour for 11 years, and represented Park Forest in its 1988 All-America City Award after co-writing and editing its honorable mention nomination. When she joined Faith United Protestant Church almost 30 years ago, Jane jumped right into the music program as a choir member and Faith Theater performer; she has been Bell Choir director for over 13 years. She has been involved in the church governance and/or organization for most of her tenure there. Jane was the first woman to chair the annual pledge drive and she overhauled its system of records; she was one of five task force members who reorganized the leadership structure of the church 20 years ago, and was the award-winning editor of the expanded newsletter Faith News for 5-1/2 years. She and Jon will miss their friends so much when they move away.
ALFRED "AL" VAN HORN III
Al Van Horn joined the Park Forest Homesteaders Association the same week that he and Sue moved their family to the village in 1951. As president during its formative years, he met with Phil Klutznick weekly to address issues such as bond proposals, improved street lighting, expanded sewage drains, providing adequate space for schools and churches-all facets of the quality of life of the newly emerging body of tax-paying homeowners. Al was also a member of the Public Health Committee; he chaired a subcommittee on the feasibility of a hospital in the village. The Illinois Department of Public Health praised their conclusion that the village did not need its own hospital and distributed their report to other communities. As his six children grew up, Al became actively involved in the schools, Boy Scouts and Faith United Protestant Church. He chaired Faith's International Christian Youth Exchange for seven years. The ICYE exchanges involved youth from Europe, Scandanavia, South America and Japan; the high school students, their host families, sponsoring churches and the village were all enriched by this fine cultural interchange. Al and Sue now winter in Florida and ill health is preventing them being here to receive his well-deserved award.