Ruth Henkel

One of the founding members of the Park Forest Nurses Club, Ruth Henkel taught Red Cross classes, and staffed the first-aid station of the Handy Camp program. As the Nurses Club
historian, she was instrumental in putting together the group’s archives from
its start in 1950 to its last meeting in 2012. The complete archival collection
is now stored at Prairie State College.

She has been a member of the Sauk Trail Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution since 1980, helping with genealogy, veterans, scholarships, and nursing homes. Ruth is a long time member of Grace United Protestant Church, and also served as a leader for Camp Fire Girls. Ruth was the nurse at the Glenwood School for more than 40 years.

James Henkel                                      

Jim Henkel and Ruth moved to Park Forest in 1951. A mechanical engineer, Jim built and
monitored bluebird houses for the Audubon Society, managed boys’ baseball teams
has been a volunteer for the Park Forest Historical Society’s 1950s House

Since 1987, Jim became actively involved in the maintenance and set-up of the venerable Pankatron machine, used for more than two decades to make and deliver pancakes at the
Kiwanis club’s annual Pancake breakfast fund raiser. He is also an active member of Grace United Protestant Church.

A. Wayne Mann

A. Wayne Mann moved to Park Forest in
1951, and quickly worked with school and Village officials to create
after-school programs for the growing numbers of children in the booming
community. He developed numerous events for youth including numerous intramural
events, the Canteen and similar programs that have been part of the
Department’s programming for decades.

Wayne also developed two programs which he says are among his personal favorites, a
Saturday morning adult basketball league as well as adult softball leagues for
men and women.

Wayne combined his duties in the Village with his work as a teacher in Oak Lawn,
Park Forest and as the assistant Superintendent of
Schools for Palos Park District 118.

Ralph Medhurst

From the time he and his wife Terry moved to Park
Forest in 1960, until his death in 2004, promoting the arts and the health services in Park Forest were a way of life for the late Ralph Medhurst. He served for four years as co-chair for the Tall Grass Arts Association’s annual art fair, and for the Center for
Performing Arts at Governors State University as a board member and worked with
the university’s SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) program.

For the Park Forest Health Department he established the “Friends of the Health Department,” in an effort to help the underserved elderly. Ralph served on the planning board and as an
attorney, and provided the pro bono legal work needed in order to create the

Ralph and his wife Terry
both were involved in scouting programs with their five children.

Terry Medhurst

Along with her husband Ralph, Terry Medhurst was not only actively involved in the arts and community life but also helped others expand their civic lives. She was a member of the
Board of Directors of the Park Forest Arts Association for 15 years, holding
positions as gallery chair and treasurer.

She held numerous positions with the South Cook County Girl Scouts, ranging from troop leader, director of the summer day camp to serving on the Board of Directors.

In 1969, Terry was a founding member of the Chansonettes and later became the Board president and treasurer for the Park Forest Singers, now called the Grande Prairie Singers.
She has been the treasurer for the Tall Grass Arts Association for 12 years and
a volunteer for the Arts Association and docent for the Park Forest 1950s Museum

Her love of music, spurred her interest in helping to bring the “Opera in the Classroom” program from the Lyric Opera of Chicago into elementary school classrooms.

As time permits she works with the Park Forest Community Garden, is a PADS volunteer, assists with the Food Pantry at St. Irenaeus Catholic Church and is an active member of Quilters Plus.


Bob Navid opened a law practice in the Park
Forest Plaza in 1953 and served the community for 24 years.
Throughout that span, Bob was actively engaged in the public life of the

He served as Village Prosecutor for the local
court and was twice elected Village Magistrate. As magistrate, Bob enjoyed the
lighter side of being a judge, performing marriages, usually in the Navid home
on Wilson Court.

After helping to found and develop the Park
Forest Aqua Center, he was its secretary and attorney for more than 20 years. He also
served on the boards of the Westwood School PTA, Park Forest Rotary, Temple Beth Sholom, and at one time was the President of the Family Service and Mental Health Center of
South Cook County, holding that last position until he retired in 1997.


Ruth Navid became active in school and scouting activities of
daughters Lois and Jane, at the same time advancing her own education. Teaching
became her passion. She developed creative and innovative approaches to
education at Sauk Trail, Westwood and Mohawk schools. Upon retirement, her School District 163 colleagues honored her as a Superior Teacher.

Simultaneous with her teaching career, Ruth supported and aided husband Bob’s increasing role in community leadership. When Bob would officiate at a wedding ceremony at home,
it was Ruth who made those private ceremonies so joyous by decorating the house
with flowers and providing home-made pastries for the wedding couple.

Her commitment to Park Forest was wrapped up in a desire for all children and
families to have an opportunity to grow and develop in a safe, loving, dynamic


Leadership, integrity and
a reliance on a strong professional staff were hallmarks of Bob Pierce’s
20-year tenure as Park Forest Village Manager. From 1962 to 1982, Pierce guided
the Village into a new era, expanding the cultural and environmental life of
the Village ranging from the formation of Thorn Creek Woods, the planning and
financing of Freedom Hall, his support for community diversity, the formation
of Aunt Martha’s youth service center, and the establishment of new housing
options for seniors.

He recommended the building the Fire Training Facility in the Village, which helped reduce insurance costs to property owners.

Pierce worked with Park Forest, Park Forest South, Will County, the State of Illinois and the private land owner and hammered out an agreement to preserve
800 acres of woodlands for present and future generations--Thorn Creek Woods.

Freedom Hall, a much needed community center was completed on schedule in 1976 and along with the creation of Aunt Martha’s, was a significant factor in the Village’s successful
bid for its second All-America City award. Pierce also spearheaded efforts by staff to
create a climate of diversity, one which set a nation-wide standard of


From the day it opened its doors in 1953, Rich East High School has been the pride of Park Forest and has become a standard of educational
excellence with a distinguished honor roll of students and teachers and a noble
history of what citizenry can accomplish.

In 1951, Park Forest residents, by a vote of 1,812 to 12, approved a
bond issue to create a high school in the fledgling community. This overwhelming support by the citizenry led to the Village’s first All-America City award in 1953.

Through the years, both academic and athletic excellence has created a pattern of outstanding
achievement for the school and the community. The most recent honor came in
2012 when U.S. News & World Report, for the third time in four years,
recognized Rich East as one of this nation’s best high schools.

Actor Tom Berenger, famed
soprano Dawn Upshaw, National Football League all-pro Larry McCarren, Chicago Bull star Craig
Hodges, author Kathy Reichs, and seminal rock musicians Kim Thayil and Hiro
Yamamoto are but a few of the notable graduates. Former Rich East basketball
coach Steve Fisher later led Michigan to an NCAA championship and in the 1960s, the
school’s debate team won consecutive state championships.

It is a record of distinction few schools can match.