The Dunne family lived next door to us on Oak Park Avenue for many years. They had four sons and one daughter, and Father Ed was the eldest.
Father Ed had graduated from St. Giles, Fenwick and Loyola University before World War II. During WWII, he served with the armed forces in Europe.
When the war ended and he returned to Oak Park, he went to work as a salesman for his father who owned Kedzie Coal and Oil. Ed didn't work there very long because he felt he had a calling to the priesthood, so he moved to Dubuque, Iowa and studied at St. Rose of Lima Seminary.
After ordination, Ed took a position teaching history at Fenwick, but he usually came home to 508 N. Oak Park Ave. on weekends and sometimes during the week.
When he was home and had time, he would play ball with the kids in the neighborhood in the lot next to his family's home. He threw a good off speed pitch in softball, and when we played touch football, he threw strong passes. He did not play basketball, but instead occasionally refereed our games and called every infraction.
On one Saturday afternoon during the summer, about 10 of us were playing hardball in the lot. When I came to bat, I hit the first pitch through the Dunne's living room window. I thought about running, but it wouldn't have taken long for the Dunne's to find out that I had broken the window. I went to their front door, and when Mr. Dunne opened it, I told him I had broken the window and that I would pay for it.
I got a thumbs-up sign from Father Ed, who had seen the whole thing. I was glad to get his OK, but it also made me realize I had better bat left-handed when playing in the lot. I did bat lefty in future games, to little effect.
My family members called Father Edward either Ed or Eddie, which he told us to do also, but the neighborhood kids always called him Father Dunne.
Father Ed left Fenwick when I was in college and moved to Florida to teach in a Dominican high school. About the same time, the Dunne family moved to an apartment on Chicago Avenue.
I am sorry to say that I never again saw or heard from Father Ed.
I'll always remember him, though, as a caring man who really took an interest in the welfare of the neighborhood kids. The youngsters he knew and advised turned out OK, so I know that his counsel hit home with us.
Father Edward Dunne passed away some years ago, but I am certain that he has a place in heaven where he can continue to watch over all of the people he helped during the years he was a part of our lives.
John Stanger is a lifelong resident of Oak Park, a 1957 graduate of OPRF High School, married with three grown children and five grandchildren, and a retired English professor at Elmhurst College. Living two miles from where he grew up, he hasn't gotten far in 72 years.
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