Joseph S. Gullo, 86, a longtime resident of Oak Park, died on Nov. 24, 2010. Born in 1924, he was a teacher, counselor and administrator of guidance programs in the Chicago public schools. He loved helping young people set and attain career goals. He was an educator’s educator, starting in the classroom teaching chemistry and science at Gage Park High School, then becoming a guidance counselor at Kelvyn Park High School. Later he became a Chicago School Board counseling administrator with multidistrict responsibilities. While in that position, he coordinated guidance programs in one-third of the city’s public schools.
Mr. Gullo developed a series of career information presentations, inviting students and their parents to hear professionals from a variety of fields talk about their jobs. Mr. Gullo said his aim was to get parents involved in helping build students’ enthusiasm for exploring their career paths. He had a love for teaching and learning, and often gave pep talks to motivate students.
A Chicago native and one of seven children, Mr. Gullo grew up on the near North Side and attended Wells High School. He excelled in science and music, playing percussion in the high school band and orchestra. A self-taught pianist, he formed band combos and performed in dance halls, taverns and churches around Chicago to earn extra money.
Mr. Gullo joined the army during WWII. From 1943-46 he served in a military police unit, guarding German prisoners of war at camps in North Carolina and Michigan. He attended Northern Illinois University on the G.I. Bill, earning a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a master’s degree in biology. He did postgraduate work in guidance and counseling at Northwestern University, DePaul University and Chicago Teachers College.
In 1955, he married Patricia Kelleher, whom he met on a blind date. The couple had seven children and moved to Oak Park, purchasing a five-bedroom former boarding house on Elmwood Avenue in 1964.
Mr. Gullo maintained strong ties to his Italian heritage. In 1995 he and Patricia traveled to Sicily to visit Montemaggiore Belsito, the small village about 60 miles southeast of Palermo where his parents were born and raised before emigrating to the U.S. in 1910.
In 1989, he retired after 38 years in the Chicago public school system and became a part-time student recruiter for Sheboygan, Wis.-based Lakeland College. He also pursued his interest in real estate sales. In 1995, he and his son David founded Gullo & Associates Real Estate. He was a member of the Oak Park Board of Realtors.
Mr. Gullo was active in a variety of civic organizations in Oak Park, most notably as a member and past president of the Oak Park-River Forest Kiwanis Club and the American Legion. He was a member of the St. Edmund and later the St. Vincent Ferrer choirs and ushered church services.
Mr. Gullo was very proud of his children’s achievements, including a physician, two teachers, a university professor, a journalist and an architect. His grandson, James Gullo, graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy last spring.
Joseph Gullo is survived by his wife, Patricia; his daughters, Ellyn, Karen, Susan (Tim Evon) and Jacquelyn (Joseph Skelton); his sons, David (Cindy Melin), Gregory (Helen) and Douglas (Kim); his 16 grandchildren; and his sister, Josephine Scurlock. He was preceded in death by his parents, Mariano and Agnes Gullo, and his siblings, Dominic, Nancy Varjavedian, Mildred Brown, Jean Kroll and Mary T. Redo.
Funeral Mass was celebrated on Nov. 29 at St. Vincent Ferrer Church in River Forest, followed by interment at Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Hillside.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Retired Teachers Association of Chicago Fund (for elderly teachers not covered by the current teacher pension plan), 20 E. Jackson Blvd., Suite 1500, Chicago IL 60604-2235.