2010 Hall of Fame Inductees
IVAN A. "IKE" BAKER
The late Ivan Baker was a tireless and passionate worker for equal educational opportunity and spearheaded desegregation efforts during his tenure as Superintendent of Park Forest School District 163. After serving as a science teacher, school principal at both Lakewood and Sauk Trail schools, and assistant superintendent, he was appointed Superintendent in 1962 and served the citizenry for 20 years before his retirement. His major achievement was a successful effort in addressing the issue of integration on a voluntary basis before it was mandated by the courts. During those turbulent times, under his leadership and that of the school board, students, faculty and staff were fully integrated by both race and gender. School District 163 became a "lighthouse" district by encouraging curriculum innovation and development to benefit students and provide the best possible education within the financial means of the district. One innovation was the implementation of a social studies program that developed a critical thinking process in students. Under his administration, and in an effort to keep up with the times, school libraries evolved into learning centers and teachers were provided with media centers where they had access to films and other classroom materials.
CHRISTINE R. BLUE
For the last 16 years, until her retirement in January, Christine Blue has tended to the vital health care needs of the community as Director of the Park Forest Health Department, making a long-lasting contribution to the health and welfare of Park Forest. As director, Christine has helped maintain the health department as a vital force in village life and did so despite cuts in staff and increased competition from other health care agencies. She did so by fostering and implementing successful health care programs. Among her many achievements are: the "CHIPS" program targeted to minority populations which generated 5,000 specific contacts; a year-long diabetes awareness campaign; the 10-Ton Challenge in a effort to address the increasing problem of obesity; the Access to Care program for those without health insurance; and the Place Matters program, which seeks specific local programs in combating infant mortality, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
In addition, Christine has been the manager for the village's successful Farmers Market and served as president of the Park Forest Rotary Club. A 40-year resident of Park Forest, Christine is an active member of St. Irenaeus Church. Nothing says more about Christine than her feelings for sons Robert and Michael, who she describes as "good men and good citizens."
MAE R. BRANDON
Volunteer work and civic service are the hallmarks of Mae Brandon's contribution to Park Forest. Her volunteer efforts began with involvement with School District 163 as a room mother, PTO President, outdoor education program Coordinator and work on special committees. Despite having no daughters, Mae was a Girl Scout leader. She was a member of the district's initiative for reorganization to implement peaceful integration in the schools. As such she worked in various ad hoc committees to focus groups designed to improve understanding between Park Forest and Chicago Heights communities. Of that work, she says when seeing a school bus turn the corner at Western and Beacon Boulevard, she was among the pickets at the intersection in an effort to obtain a traffic light, so desperately needed for the safety of children. Appointed Village Trustee in 2003, and elected for two full three-year terms in 2004 and 2007, Mae continues to serve Park Forest residents. She says it is a responsibility not taken lightly as she strives to make decisions which will have a positive impact on the quality of life in Park Forest. Mae and her husband Calvin moved to Park Forest from Baltimore in 1966. They have one son, three grand-children and one step-grandchild.
For more than 50 years, the Park Forest Art Fair has generated positive publicity for Park Forest, and for the last 25 years Diana Cruz has been the heart and soul of the Art Fair. Diana joined Tall Grass Arts Association in 1984 when her daughter wanted to take an art class. After volunteering to do some occasional typing she became a member of the Board of Directors replacing the departing Board secretary. She quickly became an invaluable asset to the organization. In the capacity as secretary she does everything from taking minutes of meetings to recruiting new artists for the Art Fair, keeping an on-going inventory of all artists as well as solving their problems. She has handled the major activities required to put on the Fair from fundraising to finding judges, and both setting up and the taking down of the booths. Her attention to detail has made the Park Forest Art Fair such a success over the years. And over the years, she has done her work quietly and without fanfare. In her other life, Diana is an Executive Administrative Assistant for JP Morgan Chase, and recently celebrated 25 years with the company. She moved to Park Forest in 1979 and has two grown children and five grandchildren.
The late Jerrold Loebl was responsible for the design of Park Forest, not by designing a building, a house, or an intersection, but the larger whole--the village. He believed that good design could lead to good living and good lives. His plan for Park Forest represented an integrated living space for people of different social and economic levels. His design was a carefully conceived vision for an ideal world. The Plaza shopping center was part and parcel of the design. Anchored by Marshall Field's and later Sears, the center was intended to replicate the collective buying and selling experiences of a community that grew up over time. Along with larger retail establishments, there was a grocery store, a bookstore, a deli, and children's clothing stores. Everything was within walking distance, allowing the shopper to meet and greet fellow citizens. Just as the variety of housing was intended to encourage diversity (in an age when that word did not exist), the shopping center was intended to solidify this new community. In order to create this village, he hired specialists to design the street layout, others with experience in school, church and synagogue design, and park design. The new, modern, ideal city required a new, modern, ideal architectural firm--one that responded to the needs of the whole as nimbly and elegantly as they did to the needs of an individual.
NORMAN J. SCHLOSSMAN
Success came early to the late Norman Schlossman, who was awarded the prestigious Hutchinson Medal while studying architecture at the Armour Institute. But probably his greatest tribute was the community of Park Forest which he helped design and build. At the time of its inception, the new town of Park Forest was by far the most significant project Norman Schlossman and his firm had ever contemplated, much less being involved in. The scope of this immense undertaking challenged the brightest minds and the talents of everyone, especially its architectural component, of which he was a key principal. He remained forever proud of Park Forest and the part he played. Throughout Park Forest's many years of development, Norman Schlossman oversaw and coordinated the design and construction process with the planning and building team. He was hands-on throughout. Norman Schlossman and his firm, Loebl, Schlossman and Bennett, were pivotal in initiating and bringing to fruition the extraordinary community which provided affordable living in a natural environment; a community which created an entire new way of life for thousands of mostly young families.
Jerry Shnay was a newspaper reporter and editor for more than 40 years, including 30 years with the Chicago Tribune. After retirement he became part of the Village's 50th Anniversary Committee, which led to his work as the village's Public Information Officer for nine years. He helped Park Forest get to the All-America City finals both in 2000 and 2006 by crafting both the application for the award and the final presentation to the judges. He also upgraded the Village newsletter from six pages to a full-color 24-page magazine. The book Park Forest: Dreams and Challenges was compiled by Jerry and depicts the history of Park Forest through more than 200 archival photographs. Published in 2001, the book, in its second printing, is sold throughout the world and is in the British Museum's American Archives collection. As President of the Historical Society for eight years, he helped establish the Society's 1950s Park Forest House Museum and for the past two years has written a bi-monthly column on people and events in the community for the SouthtownStar. Jerry has presented programs for local and area groups from his collection of more than 20,000 radio programs. He is also a Board Member of B'nai Yehuda Beth Sholom in Homewood.
Penny served the community as teacher at Talala School for 23 years, and later taught prospective teachers at Governors State University. As a teacher she impacted the lives of hundred of children and adults. When the Shnays came to Park Forest in 1964, Penny began as a swimming instructor and quickly became active in village activities. At one time or another she was a Board member on both the local chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women and the South Suburban Synagogue. Penny has been active in almost every capacity save that of President with the League of Women Voters of the Park Forest Area, and currently is Secretary of the League of Women Voters of Cook County. Over the years she registered hundreds of voters and advocated for issues important to Park Forest and beyond. For 19 years, Penny has been a member of the Park Forest Public Library Board, and is in her second term as President. As President, she helped promote the Library as the most-used facility in the village and is helping to see the current renovation to completion. Penny is co-President of the B'nai Yehuda Beth Sholom Sisterhood and is an active member of Kiwanis. Penny and Jerry Shnay raised two children in Park Forest and have four grandchildren and two step-grandchildren.