Fred Daniels Jr., 48, youth basketball and baseball coach
Fred Daniels Jr. was known by many people as “Big Fred.” The origin of this nickname may have been due to his size or his senior status over his son, Fred III. However, to those who knew him best the nickname signified one thing: Gigantic heart.

Mr. Daniels died March 16, 2006, at West Suburban Hospital in Oak Park. He was 48.

Born May 10, 1957, in Chicago to Josephine and Fred Daniels Sr., he grew up on the West Side of Chicago near West End and Leclaire. He attended St. Thomas Aquinas Elementary school and later Lane Technical High School, where he earned varsity letters in basketball. He graduated from Lane in 1975.

On May 14, 1977, he married the love of his life, Lorine. In the early 1980s, they moved from Chicago to Oak Park and raised their three children: Lytannia, LaDonna and Fred III.

Fred worked for Commonwealth Edison for 17 years. At the time of his death, he was a certified IHSA official and umpired youth baseball during the summer. In 1992, Fred and lifelong friend Felix Harper started a travel company called Red West Express, which bused fans to sporting events throughout America.

As an Oak Park Youth Baseball coach for most of the 1990s, he left a lasting mark on the community. With his broad smile, boistrous laugh and gentle manner, he touched the life of every boy who sat in his dugout. “He was a great guy,” Harper said, “a loving father and a great coach. Fred was really loved in Oak Park.”

For the past 15 years, Fred was a fixture at the Oak Park YMCA, where he spent his weekends coaching and officiating basketball games. During his time at the YMCA, Fred taught hundreds of children the fundamentals of basketball, but more importantly, he taught them the fundamentals of decency. The cheer Fred and his players recited before each game was applicable on the court, in the field, and in life: “Respect everyone, fear no one, play hard, have fun!”

Fred Daniels is survived by his wife, Lorine; his two daughters, Lytannia (Darryl) Ferguson and LaDonna; his son, Fred III; his parents, Josephine and Fred Daniels Sr.; his grandchildren, London and Darryl Ferguson; his sister, Kathy Daniels; his brother, Gary Daniels; and many nieces and nephews.

Visitation will be held from 1 to 9 p.m., March 21, at Wallace Funeral Home, 2020 W. Roosevelt Road, Broadview, and from 11 a.m. to noon, March 22, at New Galilee Missionary Baptist Church, 431 N. Laramie. Funeral services will be held at the church at noon, followed by interment at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Hillside.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions to the Fred Daniels III College Fund, c/o Community Bank of Oak Park and River Forest, 1001 Lake St., Oak Park 60301 would be greatly appreciated.

?#34;Brendan Murphy

John Clark, 81, Lifelong devotion to St. Luke and social justice
John T. Clark, age 81, of River Forest, died on March 20, 2006. Born on May 22, 1924, in Chicago to Herbert and Florence (Mahoney) Clark, he attended St. Luke Catholic School in River Forest and Fenwick High School in Oak Park. During World War II, he served as an officer in the Navy, stationed in the Philippines.

After graduating from the University of Notre Dame in 1948, he married Jane Daley on Feb. 12, 1949. They had known each other since the age of six when the Clark family moved across the street from the Daley family in River Forest.

From 1948 to 1982, Mr. Clark worked for Loyalty Insurance Co., America Fore Insurance, and Continental Insurance Co., in Chicago. From 1982 to 1992 he worked for Pilgrim Real Estate in Oak Park.

Over the decades, he was an active member of several social justice and church-related groups, including CANA, the Christian Family Movement, Catholic Interracial Council, Catholic Council on Working Life, National Council of Laity, Call to Action, United Power for Peace and Justice, Oak Park Lions Club, and Recording for the Blind.

In seventh grade, he joined the Boys Choir at St. Luke Church, starting a decades-long devotion to music at that church. Beginning in the 1960s, he was a regular cantor at Sunday morning mass. He was a faithful member of the St. Luke Chancel Choir until 2005.

An accomplished jazz pianist in the style of his artistic mentors, Art Tatum and Teddy Wilson, his love of music led him from fronting small groups in high school and college, to entertaining family and friends at home, to a steady stream of nursing home and charitable benefit performances during his retirement.

John Clark was husband for 57 years and lifelong friend of Jane (nee Daley); father of Thom (Jean), Mary Joan (Daniel) Murray, Jim (Anne), Stephen (Cynthia), Sally (John) Arden, Teresa (Tom) Naughton, Paul (Tanya), Matt, and Daniel (Sarah); grandfather of Susan, Peter, Tommy, Michael, John, Hannah, James, Geoffrey, Molly, Sean, Daniel, Mary, Emily, Samuel, Grace, Patrick, Maggie, Elizabeth, Robbie, and the late Rebecca, Jennifer, Joseph, Peter, Theresa and Maggie; great-grandfather of Teagan; brother of Richard (Judy), the late Irene, the late Herbert, the late Florence, and the late Mary Jane; and friend of caregiver Tony Tungua.

Visitation was held Tuesday at St. Luke Church, Lathrop & Lake St., River Forest. Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. on Wednesday at the church, followed by interment at Queen of Heaven Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Misericordia Home, 6300 N. Ridge Ave., Chicago 60660 or St. Luke Church, River Forest. For funeral info, call Drechsler, Brown & Williams, 383-3191.


Penny Van Verst, 65, Local Realtor
Penelope A. Van Verst, 65, died Wednesday, March 8 of cancer in her home. To all her friends and family, Penny Van Verst was a shiny Penny. Vibrant and always with a smile on her face, she lived her life helping others attain their goals, always putting their interests ahead of hers.

Born in Glendale, Calif., Mrs. Van Verst graduated from Menlo-Atherton High School in 1958 and the University of Wisconsin in 1962, where she met her husband of 43 years, Dr. Richard Van Verst, a retired Oak Park dentist. Settling in Oak Park, with her husband, she devoted her helping hand to her family of two daughters as a stay-at-home mom for 13 years.

Reaching out to help others, she began to work at the Oak Park Chicago Health Club where she became a co-manager. She then became a Realtor, and for 21 years helped young and old fulfill their housing goals and dreams.

In addition to her husband, Penny Van Verst is survived by two daughters, Kathryn Livingston and Jennifer Vande Lune; a brother, Gordon Duerr; and four grandchildren, Kaitlyn, Claire, Gavin and Chloe.

Private services have been held. If desired, memorials to the American Lung Association, 1749 S. Naperville Rd., Suite 202 Wheaton 60187 would be appreciated. Arrangements were handled by the Pedersen-Ryberg Mortuary of Elmhurst, 630/834-1133.


Jeff DeCleene, 35
Jeff P. DeCleene, 35, of Oak Park. Beloved son of Donald Sr. (Kristy) and Ann (Wendel) Seavey. Loving brother of Don Jr. (Maki), and Steve. Fond step brother of John Mauro, Michele Weston and Christine Hirnowich. Favorite uncle of many nieces and nephews. Visitation was at Zimmerman-Ehringer-Harnett Funeral Home, 7319 W. Madison St, Forest Park where a service was held. Interment private. In lieu of flowers, memorials to Shepherd’s Bethel P.O. Box 37, West Baden Springs, IN 47469, appreciated.

Robert D’Onofrio, 76, Owned auto repair shops
Robert L. D’Onofrio, 76, died on March 9, 2006 at Manor Care in Westmont. Born in Chicago to an Italian immigrant father (Fred) and a first generation Irish mother (Mary), he attended Help of Christians School in Austin and graduated from Fenwick High School in Oak Park. A Korean War veteran who repaired tanks and heavy trucks, he returned from the war to work in his father’s shop, United Auto Service in Oak Park.

In 1973, he bought Temme Auto Trim on Madison street and operated the business with three of his sons. In 1986, he opened a second shop in Elmhurst. He and his wife, Rita, moved to Oak Park in 1958, putting all 11 of their kids through Ascension School and eight of their kids through private high schools and the majority through college, all on a mechanic’s salary. In 1997, he moved to Indian Park.

A longtime member and past president of the Oak Park-River Forest Rotary Club, he was also active in the Madison Street Business Association, the Ascension Holy Name Men’s League, and Oak Leyden Development Corp. He was a fixture at the Thursday night Circle Lanes bowling league and weekly luncheons at Doc Ryan’s in Forest Park. He belonged to a group called “The Bombers,” Westsiders who first met in kindergarten and who celebrated holidays and family events together for 70 years. The group includes over 30 families.

Mr. D’Onofrio loved golf, taking his children to White Sox games and Winnebago trips across the U.S., and giving them rides on his legs after a long day at work. He battled Waldenstrom’s Anemia for over 10 years before finally giving in to physical decline.

In addition to his wife of 54 years, Robert D’Onofrio is survived by his 11 children, Mary Jo (Greg), Maureen (John), Bobby (Maryann), Meg (Tom), Judy, Joe (Betsy), Celine (Phil), Eddie (Marisa), Jeff (Laura), Tim (Missy), and Dennis; his grandchildren, Maureen, Michelle, Maggie, Melissa, Emily, Angela, Christian, Matthew, Susan, Ryan, Jacob, Lucas, Taylor, Michael, Nick, Jill, Amy, Carrie, Erin, Rachel, Dana, Cori, Brian, Laura, Johnny, Sara, Danny, and Grace; and one great-grandchild, Ethan, with a second due in April.

Funeral Mass was celebrated March 13 at Ascension Church by Rev. Michael Boyle, followed by interment at Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Hillside. Funeral arrangements were handled by Gamboney & Son Funeral Directors.


Richard Kutz, 74, Inspected first Transatlantic and Transpacific cables
Richard J. Kutz, 74, of Oak Park died on March 7, 2006 at Rush Medical Center in Chicago. Born on Jan. 24, 1932 to John and Julia Kutz in Buffalo, N.Y., Mr. Kutz was a Korean War veteran, serving with the U.S. Coast Guard.

He was employed with Western Electric, where one of his responsibilities was inspecting the first and second Transatlantic and first Transpacific undersea telephone cables. He retired from Lucent Technologies in 1989.

Mr. Kutz was past president (1993-1994) of the Telephone Pioneers of America of Rolling Meadows (James E. Olson Chapter 75). He was also past president and life member of Charles Roth Post 692 American Legion of Oak Park.

Richard Kutz is survived by his wife of 53 years, Fay, of Oak Park; his children, Julianne M. (Dennis) Kiraly, Patricia “Aisha” (Sheikh Awadalla Youssef), Mary J. Bowman, and Richard A. (MariVic); 14 grandchildren and 1 great-grandchild. He is also survived by his sister, Eleanor (Ray) Jedrysik. He was preceded in death by his parents and brother Chester.

A memorial visitation was held March 18, followed by Mass at Ascension Church, 815 S. East Ave., Oak Park. A private interment will be held at the Rural Cemetery, in Southborough, Mass.

In lieu of flowers, donations to Ascension Church or your favorite charity are appreciated. Arrangements by Drechsler, Brown & Williams Funeral Home.

Join the discussion on social media!