Lois Coxworth, R.N., M.S., a lifelong resident of the south suburbs, was employed by the village of Park Forest for nearly 15 years. As Director of the Park Forest Health Department, she enlarged health services to the region. Lois supervised and encouraged the significant growth of the delivery of home health care as well as preventive care to area residents. Lois helped found the Suburban Primary Health Care Council, a not-for-profit corporation, whose Access to Care program created a partnership between public and private organizations to help the working poor in suburban Cook County. Access to Care allows its members to see local participating physicians in private offices and provides laboratory, radiology and pharmacy services for reduced fees. Following her retirement from the village, Lois was appointed chairman of the Health Care Council. She is justifiably proud that the Access to Care program has served more than 14,000 adults and children since 1988, and over 2,200 south suburban residents are expected to participate in the next year.


Barney Cunningham, a retired widower who moved to Park Forest in 1951, has been involved in the life of the village for forty years. From his appointment to the Recreation Board in 1954 through his 16 years on the village board from 1955 - 1971 (the last 10 as village president) to his reelection as library trustee in 1993, Barney has shown his commitment to his community and the surrounding area. He is especially proud of the "Green Belt" plan and the subsequent purchase of public property, including the Park Forest golf course, and the public works improvements, which were completed during his tenure on the village board. Barney has been President of the Illinois Municipal League. He organized the Chicago South Suburban Mass Transit District in order to purchase 130 Highliner rail cars (now leased to Metra) and 55 transit buses with federal grant funds. In 1971, he served as Assistant Secretary of the Illinois Department of Transportation under Governor Richard Ogilvie. Barney continues to serve as Park Forest's representative to the Transit District. (Barney died on 3-22-96)


Judge Dietch was elected village trustee on the incorporation in 1949 of Park Forest as a municipality and then elected its first full-term village president. This first board established a non-partisan council manager form of government. It passed the basic ordinances for merit selection of police, fire and other personnel, and completed infrastructure planning, zoning and building codes. Under Henry's leadership, this board saw the need for coordination of village, school and other units of government, and it set the stage for the Park Forest to win two All-America municipal awards. Seeing the need for a high degree of cooperation and liaison with regional governments, Henry was founder and first president of the Regional Association of Cook County. He also served as village attorney for 20 years before his tenure as Cook County Court Associate Judge, the post from which he retired in 1984. Henry and his wife Shirley still live in the village, and his column "Judiciously Speaking" appears in the Star Publications. He also helped organize the Park Forest Historical Society and was its first president.


Bob and Mary Dinerstein arrived in Park Forest in 1949, and became immediately involved in the community. He served as chairman of the committee on school organization, which eventually created Rich Township High School #227 and set early boundaries for Elementary District #163. He was also president of the Park Forest Community Council before being elected to the board of trustees in 1951. This early board participated in almost every phase of infrastructure and utility planning for the village. Elected village president in 1955, Bob oversaw completion of Park Forest's residential development and the resolution of outstanding issues involving American Community Builders. Bob worked with the Commission on Human Relations in developing and implementing the policy on racial integration when the first black family moved into Park Forest in December 1959, and after his tenure as village president, served as Human Relations Commission chair for many years. The Dinersteins still reside in Park Forest for part of the year.


Dr. Gerson Engelmann was the first minister of Faith United Protestant Church and served from 1951 to January 1976, when he retired at age 70. He helped develop one of the first interdenominational lay-led churches in the United States and was a leader in interfaith cooperation, mixing the best from several mainline Protestant denominations. Gerson held degrees in ministry, sociology and psychology; he was noted for his work in counseling, using poetry as part of his sermons and for drawing leaders from the lay group to work in keeping the church related to all denominations. Gerson was aided greatly by his wife, Polly, who handled many of the personal and organizational details of their ministry. From the first church service held in the Holiday Theatre until his last sermon preached from the sanctuary built in 1957, 11,000 people joined Faith Church. He is fond of recalling that he baptized 29 infants during one Sunday service at the Holiday Theatre and that the first event held in the church's Christian Education building was the bar mitzvah of one of Philip Klutznick's sons. Gerson is currently living in a retirement community in Dayton, Ohio.


Dewey and his wife Jeanne have lived in the village since July 1959. To him, Park Forest is a town where "you can get involved and participate." His love of biking led to his service on the Traffic Safety Commission, and from there he served a five-year term as village trustee, during which Freedom Hall was built. Dewey recently retired from two long-held positions: copy editor for the Chicago Sun-Times and Supervisor of Rich Township. During his twelve-year tenure as Rich Township Supervisor, the Food Pantry and Workfare for welfare recipients were established, the town hall and Community Center were purchased, and the road district garage was built. However, Dewey may be better known around town as Funnybone the Clown, master juggler, and as the founder and driving force behind Faith Theater's nineteen successful seasons in Park Forest. Beginning with its production of Godspell in 1976, this church-based operation is dedicated to "bringing to the community outstanding dramatic, musical and cinematic presentations that are good for the soul."


Through his international fame and as a legend in the jazz world, Art Hodes brought notice to Park Forest. He once said, "I never had a community life until I got here," and he shared his immense gifts with his community. He wrote a column for the old Park Forest Reporter called "Jazz Junction" and taught at the Park Forest Conservatory. Art brought great jazz artists such as Bud Freeman, Red Saunders, Big Bill Broonsy and many others to the village, which enlarged its cultural and musical world. In order to raise money to furnish Freedom Hall, he gave several concerts around town with no remuneration to himself. Through a self-help group, Art helped hundreds of people stop a destructive lifestyle and find a better way of living. "Park Forest is people," he said, and he gave to his community willingly and eagerly. Art's book, Hot Man--the Life of Art Hodes, was published shortly before his death on March 4, 1993. His wife Jan still lives in the village.


Nathan Manilow loved challenges and building a new town after World War II was one of his boldest projects. After acquiring about 3,000 acres of golf course, nursery and farm land to the west of Schubert's Woods and Sauk Lake Forest Preserves between Chicago Heights and Richton Park, he and Philip Klutznick became partners in American Community Builders. Manilow provided the financing and arranged for the architects to design 3,000 apartment units to spearhead development of the community. In addition, American Community Builders built and sold 5,000 single-family brick ranch homes in less than eight years. Without his faith to invest his financial reserves in a vision and his ability to launch that vision into reality, Park Forest would never have been born. Its success brought Nathan Manilow great joy and satisfaction. He died in October 1971.


The woman who helped organize the village's first voluntary library came to be our town's first librarian. She was also Park Forest's first head librarian, a position she held from 1955 through 1976. During that time, she oversaw construction of the three phases of the present library building. Miss Ringering was instrumental in developing the Suburban Library System in 1967 and having Park Forest named as a co-headquarters for the system's information service. Leona served on the board of the Park Forest Symphony and its successor, the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra. She has also committed her time and talents to the boards of the Family Service Organization, United Way, and the Park Forest Association of Churches and Synagogues. Leona is still active in the village; she lectures frequently on her wide range of interests from travel to the arts, often appearing in the aptly named community room of the Park Forest Public Library--the Ringering Room.


Carroll F. Sweet, Jr., son of the man who had the original idea to create a "GI town" and who brought Nathan Manilow and Philip Klutznick together, joined Manilow's staff in 1946. He is the sole survivor of the site selection group that viewed the property that would become Park Forest in March of that year. Mr. Sweet was the first person to suggest calling our village "Park Forest" and he named many of its streets: the early rentals, the first part of the "Homes for Sale" area, the Congressional Medal of Honor winners, the Westwood subdivision and Lincolnwood. As director of planning and utilities for American Community Builders, he was responsible for most of the subdivision plats and utility installations. Early village residents may remember him delivering the mail and water bottles in his "Black Mariah," a 1940 Buick convertible. He was one of the organizers and charter president of the Park Forest Rotary Club. Carroll and his wife LaNe now reside in La Jolla, GA. (Carroll died on 3-25-96)


Earl and Evelyn Wade have lived in Park Forest since 1950 and have participated in the dreams, hopes and realities that make the village a wonderful place to live. A United Airlines pilot for 30 years, Earl was a charter member of the Faith United Protestant Church's unique religious experience for thousands of people in the greater Park Forest area from the early days of the village. He has served many years in leadership roles in the church and still leads gardening crews in the beautiful landscaping of the facility each year. Earl is proud of his 40-year association with Kiwanis International and the Kiwanis Club of Park Forest, for which he served as distinguished president. During this time, Kiwanis Pancake Day has become an annual event with tremendous support from the people of Park Forest. Earl was co-designer of the "Pankatron," the unique griddle/conveyor belt machine which makes and cooks 366 pancakes at one time. Extending Kiwanis service to the youth of our excellent schools and contributing to community beautification has been particularly gratifying to Earl. (Earl died on 6-11-97)