Obituaries

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Bob James, 77OP Realtor who played a role in fair housing
W. Robert (Bob) James, Jr., 77, of Forest Park, a longtime resident of Oak Park, died July 19, 2005.

Real estate was a family business for Bob James. But he didn't get into it right away. James went to Yale after graduating from Oak Park and River Forest High School in 1945 and at Yale played on the 1948 baseball team that finished second in the nation. A hard-hitting outfielder and catcher, James had a teammate on that team, a slick-fielding first baseman named George Herbert Walker Bush who would go on to be the 41st president of the United States and the father of the current president.

"He was the greatest fielding first baseman that I've seen until Mark Grace came along," said James.

James graduated from Yale in 1950 with four varsity letters despite having his college career interrupted by service in the Army. A whiz in the just-emerging field of computer programming, he went to work for IBM in New Haven, Conn. But after a few years, James decided in 1956 to return to Oak Park and join his father at the W.R. James Company, which his father founded in 1919.

The two men were the first father and son both to be named Realtor of the Year by the Oak Park Board of Realtors.

Bob also is believed to be the first Oak Park Realtor to obtain the coveted GRI designation as a graduate of the Graduate Real Estate Institute.

A pivotal force during the late 1960s and '70s when Oak Park was dealing with the then-tumultuous issues of integration, James remembers the days when certain listings were designated with the letter M, indicating they could be shown to minorities. Most listings could not. He helped break down that system by working with Bobbie Raymond and other activists to get a fair housing ordinance enacted in Oak Park.

"I've gone through one of the greatest social revolutions," said James, who was the first Realtor in Illinois appointed to a community relations commission. "I was able to participate in that."

James was the agent who helped sell a home on Ridgeland Avenue to Henry and Sherlynn Reid in 1968 when the Reids became the first African Americans to buy a home in Oak Park without using a "straw" purchaser (i.e. a white person posing as a front).

"He was very good," said Sherlynn, who still lives in the house today. "He was a warm, friendly person."

In 2000, James shuttered his business because of health problems. But he didn't stay out of the business for long. John Sprafka, James's fishing buddy and long-time competitor, soon convinced James to join him at Sprafka Realtors.

"I can't get it out of my blood," said James.

Bob was a veteran of the U.S. Army in WWII and Korea, which was partly what determined his attitude about selling to minorities.

"I felt, having served twice in the service," James said in a 1999 interview, "that anybody who was good enough to let their red blood flow and had the green cash to pay for the property should live where they want."

James was also a former member of Fair Oaks #1006 Masonic Lodge.

Bob James was the husband of Mary (nee Hemingway); the father of Elizabeth "Pennie" Ebsen, W. Robert III (Lucy), Donald H. (Julie), and Martha (Charles Andrew) Wells; the grandfather of Donald, Robert and Anna Ebsen, Timothy, Joseph and Elizabeth James, Chase, Charles and Clayton James, and Mary, Charles, Jonathan and Mark Wells; the brother of William (Joan), John "Jack" James, and the late Carol (the late Evan) Tyrrell; and uncle and great-uncle of many.

Visitation was held July 22 at Drechsler, Brown & Williams Funeral Home. A memorial service was held July 23 at Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church in Oak Park. Memorials to Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church or the American Cancer Society are appreciated.

 

Ann Gorman, 77, Lifelong resident of Oak Park
Ann Therese Gorman, 77, a lifelong resident of Oak Park, died July 8, 2005 at Oak Park Hospital. Born in Chicago on April 26, 1928 to John and Estelle Gorman, she graduated from Rosary College (now Dominican University) and received her master's degree from Purdue University.

She worked as a dietician for the University of Illinois Hospital, retiring in 1999.

Ms. Gorman loved to sing and was a member of the St. Giles Church Choir for many years. She remained a loyal and generous alumna of Dominican University.

Ann Gorman was the aunt and great-aunt of many. She was preceded in death by her parents and her siblings, John P., Mary Estelle, and Thomas R. Gorman.

Visitation was held July 12 at Drechsler, Brown & Williams Funeral Home. Funeral Mass was celebrated July 27 at St. Giles Church in Oak Park, followed by interment at Calvary Cemetery in Elmhurst.

Memorials to Dominican University, 7900 W. Division St., River Forest 60305 or the charity of your choice are appreciated.

Lucy Reum, 91, Racing industry pioneer
and reformer

Lucy L. Reum, 91, of Oak Park, a prominent political and civic leader and former chairman of the Illinois Racing Board who gained national recognition and achieved a number of firsts for women in the racing industry, died in Oak Park on July 18, 2005.

Mrs. Reum was the widow of Walter J. Reum, an influential former Republican state legislator, lawyer and author.

After appointment as a member of the Illinois Racing Board in 1973, Mrs. Reum was subsequently named the first woman chairman of a state racing commission in the United States. She initiated major reform on the backstretch of Illinois racetracks by demanding and obtaining from racetrack owners housing and sanitation improvements, comprehensive fire prevention and safety measures, health and human services, and special schooling to improve the quality of life of backstretch employees. In addition, as a member of the board of the prestigious National Fire Protection Association, she played a leading role in formulating a comprehensive set of fire safety standards for all racetracks in the U.S. and Canada.

In 1975, Mrs. Reum was named "Horseman of the Year" by the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association as the person who had "done the most for Chicago thoroughbred racing in the past year," the first time a woman was given that honor. In 1998, Governor Edgar presented her with the third annual "Governor's Award" for having "constructively contributed more than anyone to the racing industry in the past 50 years."

In 1969, Mrs. Reum was elected as a delegate to the Illinois Constitutional Convention. She served as vice chairman of the convention's legislative committee and received editorial praise as one of the persons instrumental to the passage of the Illinois Constitution of 1970.

Mrs. Reum was active in Republican party affairs and held a number of positions, including Republican Township Committeewoman of Oak Park and alternate delegate to the 1964 Republican National Convention. As the Republican candidate for Cook County Recorder of Deeds in 1972, she was narrowly defeated in the general election after conducting a spirited "whistle-stop" campaign, traversing the county in a replica old-time Pullman railcar.

Mrs. Reum devoted substantial time to a broad range of charitable and civic causes, serving on the women's auxiliary boards of the Salvation Army, Mental Health Association of Greater Chicago, Lyric Opera and the Infant Welfare Society of Oak Park. She was the founder and first president of the Racing Industry Charitable Foundation, which was organized in 1979 to provide medical, dental, social services and out-patient substance abuse clinics for racing industry workers and their families. In addition, she was the first woman elected to the board of directors of the National Association of State Racing Commissioners.

Mrs. Reum was a graduate of Austin High School and attended the University of Chicago on a Rosenwald Scholarship. After receiving the highest grades of all student teachers at U of C Lab High School, she subsequently took a teaching position in Milwaukee for several years. Her marriage to Mr. Reum in 1939 lasted 60 years until his death in 1999.

Survivors include two sons, Robert, chairman and chief executive officer of Amsted Industries, and James, a senior partner with Winston & Strawn law firm, and five grandchildren.

In "Winners: The Story of Alcohol and Drug-Abuse Programs in the Horse Racing Industry," 1997, DRF Press, authors C. Barrett and D. Clippinger state, "Lucy Reum was a pioneer and a radical innovator in a highly conservative sport. In the male-dominated world of horse racing, she made a difference in Illinois. Through her efforts?#34;first as a member of the Illinois Racing Board, then as its chairperson in 1976 and 1977, as a founder of the Racing Industry Charitable Foundation?#34;she helped to create the first comprehensive program of services for the backstretch worker. She undertook this estimable but daunting task for two reasons: first, she looked upon her appointment to the Racing Board as a public trust and responsibility; and second, she cared about the conditions on Illinois' race tracks. ... From the effort that she set in motion, Illinois has developed the most comprehensive system of backstretch services?#34;services that address the whole person." (page 129)

A Chicago Daily News article (1970?) entitled, "Woman's Plea Saved Charter From Defeat," stated, "A last-minute fight by Mrs. Lucy Reum of Oak Park saved the Illinois constitutional convention from submitting a constitution that would have met certain defeat at the polls. This became obvious as returns from Tuesday's referendum showed a large majority approving con con's main document but rejecting a separate proposal for single-member legislative districts. It was Mrs. Reum who led the eleventh-hour fight to remove the single-member plan from the main package for fear it would generate so much opposition the whole charter would be defeated."

Survivors include two sons, Robert and James; a sister, Vera Valentine; and five grandchildren.

Visitation was held July 21 at Drechsler, Brown & Williams Funeral Home. A memorial service took place July 22 at St. Chrysostom Church in Chicago.

Irving Golden, 98, Owned custom bar and store fixtures company
Irving R. Golden, 98, a longtime resident of Oak Park, died June 22, 2005 in the home he designed and lived in for 57 years.

Mr. Golden graduated from Crane Technical High School, then studied law at DePaul and Kent law schools. He joined his father, Max Goldstein, in running Acme Store Fixture Co. at 2225-2233 W. Roosevelt Rd., designing custom-built bars and fixtures. Among their clients was the popular Rush Street establishment Riccardo's and The Dubonnet Lounge at Winthrop Avenue and Argyle Street on the North Side.

He practiced law in the 1960s for several Cook County State's Attorneys and Illinois Attorney Generals and worked as a guardian ad litem in Juvenile Court in his later years.

An avid athlete, he excelled at track, swimming, and speed-skating, and enjoyed handball, volleyball, basketball and bowling (he once bowled a 297 game). He coached youth baseball and served as a Cub Scout den master.

Mr. Golden read widely and loved engaging his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren in discussions. He enjoyed classical music, opera, Yiddish music and radio talk programs.

Handy around the house, he did most of his own repairs into his 90s. He was a member of the Covenant Club, Austin YMCA, Illinois State Bar Association, Decalogue Society of Lawyers and for over 40 years, West Suburban Temple Har Zion. He and his wife traveled widely.

Irving Golden was the husband of Anne (nee Eisenberg); the father of Bruce and Leslie Golden and Marla Rae Wolfinger; the grandfather of four and the great-grandfather of 10.

Services have been held.

Susan Kernan, 96, Longtime Oak Park resident
Susan A. Kernan (nee Callum), 96, a longtime resident of Oak Park, died at home on July 23, 2005.

She was the wife of the late George F. Kernan; the mother of Anne, Bill (Paulette), Mary Sue, Jean, Robert C., and Richard T. (Claudia); grandmother of 16 and great-grandmother of 12; and the sister of the late John "Bud" Callum and Marie Callum McKenna.

Visitation was held July 26 at Zimmerman-Ehringer Funeral Home in Forest Park. A funeral service will be held today at 9:30 a.m. at the funeral home. Mass will be celebrated at Ascension Church at 10 a.m., followed by interment at Mount Carmel Cemetery.

 

?#34;Compiled by Bob Skolnik and Ken Trainor

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