Esther Parada, 67, Oak Park artist and activist
Esther Parada, longtime Oak Park resident, died in her Chicago home from cancer on Oct. 19, 2005, at the age of 67. She had been battling gastrointestinal stromal cell cancer for three years. She lived in Oak Park from 1977 to 1993, and “loved Oak Park,” said son Adam Wilson.

Esther had been heavily involved in melding political and social issues with art. She had been a photography professor at the University of Illinois Chicago’s School of Art and Design since 1974, bringing her passion for art and social awareness to the classroom. She served in the U.S. Peace Corps as an art instructor in Sucre, Bolivia, during her 20s. While at the Escuela de Artes Plasticas Universidad de San Francisco Xavier, she began to work as much as she could with her camera. “She used her art to preserve history. She wanted to make the world a better place and enhance understanding,” said her sister, Susan Peters.

Her work is displayed in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. She won awards and received many honors for her works. Esther’s latest works explored the connections between horticultural and cultural history, most notably her latest, which is at Gallery 312 in Chicago. It is titled “When the Bough Breaks,” a meditation about Elm trees, including Oak Park’s. “It was kind of a metaphor for the diversification of what it means to have a family,” said Wilson.

“In her last years during her struggle with cancer, she had time to meditate on her accomplishments and shortcomings as a mom, and made respectable efforts to reconcile them,” said Wilson, who was Parada’s only child. “It gave her a level of peace.” In addition to her son, Parada is survived by her brother, Benjamin Glaser; her sisters, Susan Peters and Margo Davion; and four nieces and nephews. A memorial service was held Oct. 24 at Unity Temple in Oak Park.

Sylvester Kuenster, 93, St. Edmund parishioner
Sylvester “Steve” Kuenster died on Oct. 20, 2005. He had been a resident of Oak Park for more than 56 years. Born on Sept. 14, 1912 in Cassville, Wis., he was an alumnus of Loras College, and later served as staff sergeant and aerial gunnery instructor in the Army-Air Corps during World War II. He worked for Public Service and Northern Illinois Gas companies. An usher and active member of St. Edmund Catholic Church in Oak Park, he was also a member of the Oak Park Arms Men’s Club. He enjoyed bowling and ballroom dancing and was an avid bridge player.

Sylvester Kuenster was married 60 years to Helen (McManmon) Kuenster. He is survived by his children, John (Mary Fran), Greg (Songliu), Mary Jo (Charles Bassett), Angele (Don Gardner), Virginia (Charles) Yarbrough, Lenore (Gerald) Siemer, Maureen (Jean-Pierre Charmant), Mark, and Margory (Reed “Skip” Hobbs); his grandchildren, Katie (Jason), Ann, Maggie (Mike), John Jr. (Wendy) Julia, Marie, Scott (Shell), Ami, Lora, Elliot, Tom, Steve, Audrey, David, Michael, Christopher and Jake; his great-grandchildren, Brody, Abby, John III, Ella, Mallory and Jackson; his sister, Florence Grund; brother-in-law Jim Anderson; sisters-in-law Betty Kuenster, Marguerite McManmon, Mary Lenore McManmon, CSJ, Eleanor McManmon Daly, and Lorraine McManmon; and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his brothers, Karl and Julius “Judy” Kuenster; brothers-in-law Joe Grund and John McManmon; sisters-in-law Caroline Kuenster and Catherine Anderson; and great-granddaughter, Ellen Marie Krozel.

Visitation was held at Drechsler, Brown & Williams Funeral Home in Oak Park. Funeral Mass was celebrated at St. Edmund Church in Oak Park on Oct. 24. Eight of his grandsons were pallbearers. Interment with a military honor guard followed at Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Hillside where his grandson, Jacob Hobbs, played Taps.

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