Geraldine McCullough, 91, renowned artist and sculptor
Geraldine (Hamilton) McCullough, 91, died on Dec. 15, 2008 in her home and studio in Oak Park. Born on Dec. 1, 1917 in Mason County, Ark., she spent her formative years in Chicago. Ms. McCullough graduated from the Art Institute of Chicago with a Bachelor and Master of Arts degree in painting and art education. She went on to teach in the Chicago Public School system and served as chairman of the Art Department for 12 years at Rosary College (now Dominican University) in River Forest. She received an honorary doctorate from Dominican University after she retired.

Her work is exhibited at The Smithsonian and the National Women’s Museum in Washington D.C. and many other galleries and museums. She received the George D. Widener Gold Medal for sculpture in 1965 for her mixed-metal sculpture, titled, “Phoenix.”

She moved to Oak Park in 1968 and lived in an enormous studio space that was once a CTA generating station near Lombard and South Boulevard.

In the early 1980s, Ms. McCullough gifted the Village of Oak Park with a massive, 13-foot-high sculpture titled, “Pathfinder,” which stands in the village hall courtyard at Madison and Lombard. The sculpture was dedicated on Dec. 5, 1982.

“‘Pathfinder’ expresses the visionary aspect of Oak Park’s community life and its ability to translate that vision into reality,” McCullough said. “The ball at top can be seen as a crystal ball. The vision: three separate pieces coming together as the symbol of people working together, and the solid base upon which it stands as the solidarity of Oak Park. Together the ‘Pathfinder’ represents Oak Park finding the way for the nation to achieve a successful and socially conscious community.”

The ball alone weighs 300 pounds. The village supplied cranes and trucks to hoist the finished sculpture and transport it the three blocks from her studio to village hall. The sculpture was refurbished a few years ago.

Originally a painter, Ms. McCullough was introduced to welded sculpture by her husband, Lester. Many of her works blended the figurative with the abstract.

In 2000 Geraldine was presented the Oak Park Area Arts Council’s Joseph Randall Shapiro Award given annually in recognition of “exceptional contributions to the arts.” She was already familiar with the cast-bronze award since she created it in 1996.

She served on the Oak Park Public Art Committee and was an active chartered member in the West Towns Chapter of The Links, Inc. and a platinum member of the Chicago Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

Sherlynn Reid, who counted her as a good friend, helped her stay active in later years by driving her around.

“She told us she was 86,” Reid recalled. “She was a wonderful, beautiful person, creative and talented.” Reid had just taken her to a party a week ago Saturday, the night before she died. “She said she wasn’t feeling that well,” Reid said, “but she had a good time.”

Geraldine McCullough was preceded in death by her husband, Lester W. McCullough, Sr. She is survived by her son, Lester ‘Skip’ McCullough, Jr.; his wife, Mary and their two children, Scott and Kimberly; two sisters, Hazel Collymore and Gladys (William) Davis; two brothers, Charles Hamilton and Nathaniel (Joann) Hamilton; and many nieces, nephews, family and friends.

Visitation was held Dec. 21 at A.A. Rayner and Sons Funeral Home, 5911 Madison, in Chicago. A second visitation and funeral services took place, Dec. 22, at Grace Episcopal Church in Oak Park, followed by interment at Sunset Cemetery in Glenview.

In lieu of flowers, please make a contribution to the Geraldine McCullough Memorial Fund, Dominican University, 7900 Division, River Forest 60305.

Florence Zvetina, 68, Raconteur

Florence F. Zvetina (nee Rossano), formerly of Oak Park, died on Nov. 6, 2008 at her residence in Westchester. She was the circulation manager at the News Journal World newspaper in Oak Park, and contributed theater and travel articles to the publication as well. She also worked in advertising at the Economist and Suburban Record newspapers, and later in international sales at E.J. Brach candy.

Mrs. Zvetina was the wife of John P. Zvetina, and the mother of Marie (Gregory) Ferro and Michelle (David) Adams. Florence and John were active members of St. Giles Catholic Church in Oak Park, where they were married in 1960.

A memorial Mass was celebrated on Nov. 8, 2008 at Divine Providence Church in Westchester.

-Ken Trainor

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