The Honorable Donna L. (Bost) Cervini, 72, a longtime resident of Oak Park, died peacefully at her daughter's home on March 25, 2014, surrounded by her family, in San Diego, Calif.
She leaves behind the legacy of a long and distinguished history of charitable work and community involvement. Attending Wheeling Jesuit University in Wheeling, W.Va., the Jesuit spirit of service to others was instilled in her and fueled her until her final days. During college she volunteered at the Home of the Good Shepherd Orphanage, helping high school students and organizing programs for children. As a young woman, she was active in the Pittsburgh Catholic Interracial Counsel, working to promote open housing and participating in the anti-apartheid movement for South Africa.
In 1967, she moved from Pittsburgh to Oak Park, where she continued her charitable and community efforts, becoming a member and then later chair of the Oak Park-River Forest Citizens Committee for Human Rights and helping to lead the open housing movement in Oak Park with the Oak Park Housing Center, serving on the board for several years. She was a co-founder of the St. Giles Family Mass Community, marched for civil rights, and was a draft counselor against the Vietnam War.
Spurred on by those activities, in 1971 Ms. Cervini began her legal career as a student at Northwestern University Law School, graduating in 1975 with a Juris Doctor degree. At the time she attended law school, only 50 of the 500 students in her class were women. Upon graduation, she worked for the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation for four years, prosecuting medical, pharmaceutical, and nursing cases. Next, she worked in private practice and, in 1985, was appointed associate judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County, last presiding over cases in the Juvenile Justice Court, Abuse and Neglect Division, until retiring in 2002. Using her experience from her time on the bench in Juvenile Court, she continued her work on the Illinois Child Death Review Team until 2013.
Ms. Cervini was co-founder of the Lawyers' Assistance Program, created in 1980, and served as its chair for 14 years, helping depressed and alcohol-, drug-, and medically-impaired judges and lawyers with recovery. She also served on the American Bar Association's Commission for the Impaired Attorney (now the Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs), traveling North America to perform mock interventions and counseling attorneys and judges — work that was incredibly rewarding for her and those she touched with her service. While on the bench, she also volunteered with West Suburban PADS Shelter in Oak Park.
After retiring from the bench in 2002, Donna served on the Oak Park Police and Fire Commission, mainly as chair, through late 2013. She also served on the board of the International Women Associates of Chicago, 2000-2004. In addition to her active public work, Donna quietly financially supported many underprivileged persons, some of whom she met through her time volunteering with the Appalachian Service Project in West Virginia.
She loved to travel, was an avid snow skier and scuba diver with hundreds of dives all over the world to her credit, many of which were enjoyed with her dear friends at DJ's Scuba Locker of Brookfield.
Donna Cervini was the former spouse of the late Lawrence A. Cervini; the mother of Cynthia Cervini, and Christine C. (Joe) Wong; daughter of the late Mary Ellen (McDermott) and the late John William Bost; sister of Joanne (Steve) Halle, Mary (Mike) Silbaugh, Faith (Alan) Katchmar, Jim (Jackie) Connolly, Carol (Gary) Ostrander, and Nancy Makela; grandmother of Drew, Siena, and Stephen Wong; and the aunt of Matthew (Michelle) and Joshua Heckel and many more.
A memorial service to honor Donna will be held on Saturday, May 3, 2014 at St. Giles Church in Oak Park. Family and friends will be received from 9 a.m., followed immediately by Mass at 10:30 a.m. and a reception thereafter.
In lieu of flowers, her family has requested donations be made in her name to the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC) (www.ovarian.org) and Westwood Elementary, 17449 Matinal Road, San Diego, CA 92127 (donations are tax deductible; Tax ID# 23-7350795).
Alternatively, she would have appreciated simply that you perform an act of service and kindness for someone in need.