2001 Hall of Fame Inductees
F. PATRICK KELLY
When Pat Kelly is asked of what he is most proud in his 32 years of service to Park Forest, he is quick to say that he was educated in diversity, humanity and reality by the wonderful students of Rich East High School, where he taught art and English. But his l0-year tenure as board member and president of "one of the premiere libraries in the Midwest" and his 18 years as member and president of the village board rank close to the top. As Village President from 1991 to 1999, Pat's leadership was instrumental in sowing the seeds of progress that began the restoration of an obsolete shopping mall into a viable downtown. His kind, generous, thoughtful leadership through adverse times is well known.
A graduate of Notre Dame and IIT and a civil war buff, Pat now teaches art and history at Moraine Valley Jr. College. He and Nancy raised three children; they are grandparents of five, including current Rich East student Katie. Pat is also a professional artist and current president of the Tall Grass Art Association. He was just elected to the Olympia Fields Library Board, bringing him back full circle in service.
American Community Builders needed to know what the religious needs of the fledgling new community of Park Forest might be so that land could be set aside for churches. A Protestant minister was hired as chaplain to interview new residents--Hugo Leinberger, a World War II Navy chaplain. Beginning in October 1948, Rev. Leinberger visited village newcomers; by 1956, he had made over 10,000 calls. He discovered that those newcomers did not want denominational affiliations per se; they wanted solid religious instruction for their children and a good pastor.
Hugo did more than make calls; he made a deep and lasting impression by his constant presence and vigilance over long years of activity. His energy and genuine interest in listening to religious concerns and his complete dedication to the United Protestant church movement shone. His involvement laid the groundwork for the formation of all four United Protestant churches in Park Forest. He preached many sermons, helped select church sites, pushed for lay leadership, was active in community affairs and handled relationship problems. He counseled people, made hospital and home visits, and his moral leadership paved the way for our unique, enduring UP churches. He died in Park Forest in 1971, leaving his wife Ruth, son Paul (well known to the Park Forest Historical Society) and three daughters.
JOHN LAWRENCE MORRISSEY
When Jack Morrissey began his career as a member of the volunteer fire department as a way of becoming part of his new community in 192, he never envisioned that he would retire 40 years later as the beloved Chief of one of the most respected Fire Departments in the area. In his early years as a firefighter and Lieutenant, Jack's interest in public safety issues was paramount. He formed a model fire prevention bureau in 1965, which was nationally recognized for its initiatives aimed at increasing fire safety awareness: the South Suburban Fire Prevention Association, "Operation Red," and the EDITH fire escape plan, among others.
Jack's promotion to Chief in 1978 intensified his efforts to protect the lives of villagers. He helped create one of the first comprehensive smoke detector ordinances in the area and introduced fire safety education into the schools. Our fine paramedic program and the tradition of the memorial "lights only" parade for fallen firefighters and fire victims were Morrisey ideas. When he died in December 2000, Jack's unwavering commitment to the department and village were acknowledged by this nomination.
MAYER and PEGGIE SINGERMAN
Early settlers in Park Forest, Mayer and Peggie Singerman were consummate volunteers. Their children can't recall a weekend Mayer wasn't involved in some activity or a night he wasn't reading or studying village materials; there wasn't a time that Peggie didn't focus on the development of the Art Center or work on the Art Fair. The sight of "starving artists" sleeping on the living room floor was frequent in the Singerman household. Enthusiastic supporters of all the performing arts and community activities in the village, they took great pains to insure that Park Forest become an open, friendly place where people cared about each other without regard to race, religion or personal beliefs.
Mayer was a strong advocate of Park Forest's non-partisan political system as a trustee and Village President during the 60's and 70's, his focus was on anti-discrimination. A
proud political liberal, he spoke out passionately for the harmonious racial integration and maintenance policies of the village that became a model of success for many other communities. His intellect and good sense of humor helped him remain friends with all, even those who disagreed with him. They moved to Chicago after their retirement. Peggie died in late summer 1998 and our own "Mayor" Mayer, the erroneous appellation he loved, died one year later.
HARRY T. TESHIMA
"A white hot flame, burning away at injustice" was how Harry Teshima was described at his funeral in 1974. Having known prejudice in World War II, Harry was determined to erase it in the native land he loved. When he came to Park Forest in 1955 he worked, mostly behind the scenes, to make his new village a place where the American dream could become real. His major interests while living here were in the fields of human and civil rights and integration. After overcoming obstacles of his own in purchasing a home for himself, Kay and their four children, he vowed to help others facing similar roadblocks.
From 1955 to 1958, Harry worked tirelessly with the American Friends Service Committee, the National Council of Christians and Jews and the South Suburban Unitarian Universalist Church's Social Action Committee, laying the groundwork that attracted the fast African American families as residents of his town. Harry and those he enlisted for his cause not only challenged racially restricted real estate covenants at the time, they stemmed panic listings by convincing real estate brokers to show homes on newly integrated blocks to everyone. When he died riding his beloved motorcycle, it was said that Harry's spirit lived on in all he did so the rest of us could continue his message.
RITA C. WALKER
As wife and partner of Hall of Fame inductee Sam, Rita added her voice to those of the pioneer homeowners who spoke up for their rights as a founding member of the Homesteaders Association when the Walkers moved to the village in 1952. An early teacher in District #163, Rita introduced new ideas to a new school system; she still contributes by tutoring homebound students and serving as Phi Delta Kappa foundation chairman and on the board of the Illinois Retired Teachers Association. As mother of three girls, Rita helped found Girl Scout units as well as organize girls' softball teams in Park Forest. She helped Sam in similar pursuits with the original Boy Scout troups.
A member of the 50th Anniversary committee and Tall Grass Arts .Association Board of Directors, Rita has served as president of the Rotary Club and has hosted and counseled numerous Rotary Scholars from all over the world. Active in her church, Rita organized the women's groups and the couples' club; she received the Community Service Award for her activities from the Knights of Columbus.