In 1981 the Sculpture for Village Hall Committee was formed, consisting of Wallis Austin (Oak Park Trust and Savings Bank), John Gearen Sr. (former village president), Sherlynn Reid, and me. We began to raise money to build a sculpture at village hall and already had a design maquette by Gerry McCullough. Gerry had previously created the whimsical Mouse Trap for the Oak Park Mall. Wednesday Journal carried the first article about the sculpture headlined “Village Hall sculpture is group’s goal,” by Eric Linden on May 13, 1981. 

Subsequently many fundraising letters were sent. We needed $12,000 just for materials. Because we had raised only $6,000 by the following year, we scaled down the design and had a series of fundraising events, including a tour at Gerry’s studio and a reception at Joseph Randall Shapiro’s home, which included a tour of his extraordinary surrealist art collection in April, 1982. In May of that year, having raised sufficient funds, we offered the sculpture to the village, and President Sara Bode graciously accepted.

We continued to raise funds. I wrote all of the fundraising material, press releases and arranged the fund-raising events. The installation costs of approximately $10,000 were covered by the village. On Dec. 5, 1982, we had the dedication at village hall and a gala reception at the Cheese Cellar Restaurant and Bar (now Winberie’s). Again, Wednesday Journal covered the event. The reception had an element of controversy in that Oak Park INFACT was picketing the restaurant for issues relating to the parent company, Stouffer’s.

The dedication program lists six donors of $1,000 or more (which included the restaurant, village and me along with my husband, Dr. Wallace W. Kirkland) 10 donors of $100 or more, and more than 400 residents of Oak Park who contributed $5 or more. I still have in my Pathfinder scrapbook the eloquent dedication speech given by Joseph Randall Shapiro, as well as all of the articles that appeared. It was a windy and blustery day when Pathfinder was installed, but it created a warm glow when “art for the people” brought all of us together. Even Chicago Magazine covered the event, bringing some good public relations to Oak Park at a time when we needed it.

Geraldine McCullough’s sculpture was not a gift to Oak Park from only Gerry. [Geraldine McCullough will be missed by many, Viewpoints, Jan. 14] It was truly a gift from many people who joined to raise the funds and see the sculpture completed. In 2002, the sculpture was rededicated at the time of the village hall courtyard being rededicated. Many of us were there again, and I know Gerry took special pleasure in this event. My scrapbook proved valuable at that time because Gerry wanted family members to see all of the articles that had appeared in the 1980s. I would strongly recommend that people keep scrapbooks of special events and not on the computer, which can be lost.

Roberta Raymond
Oak Park

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