Jacob “Jake” D. Dumelle, Lt. Cmdr. (Ret.) U.S. Navy, 89, of Oak Park, died on June 14, 2014. Born in Chicago on April 12, 1925 to Frank and Virginia Dumelle, he graduated from Lane Tech and earned his Bachelor and Master of Science in Public Engineering Administration degrees at the Illinois Institute of Technology.
He applied his lifetime of professional engineering experience as one of the original appointees to the Illinois Pollution Control Board in 1970. He served there nearly 21 years, through December 1991, taking the role of chairman from August 1973 until November 1988.
Prior to this, he held village/city manager positions in Brookfield, Peoria, and Lebanon, New Hampshire. On the federal level, he served as chief of staff for U.S. Sen. Norris Cotton (New Hampshire) in 1960, then as a deputy assistant administrator in the U.S. Department of Commerce (1962-1964) in Washington.
Dumelle’s dedication to environmental standards and quality of life was an ongoing force in his career, working as research director for the Chicago Department of Air Pollution Control (1961-62), assistant chief engineer for operations of the Metropolitan Sanitary District of Greater Chicago (1962, 1966-68), directing an air pollution-land use study at the Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission (1964-66), and serving as director of the Lake Michigan Basin Office of the U.S. Federal Water Quality Administration (1968-70). The Illinois Pollution Control Board was the culmination of that career.
He also appeared as an extra in many major movies, including Home Alone (1990) and The Fugitive (1993). For The Lake House (2006), filmed partly in Riverside, he spoke his first lines when he was cast as a concerned patient examined by a doctor played by Sandra Bullock.
He attended the premiere in Los Angeles in 2006. It included the screening, walking down the red carpet, and, at the after-party, co-stars Bullock and Keanu Reeves offered the highest compliment on his performance: “You got laughs!”
Jake Dumelle is survived by his wife, Dorothy J. (nee Konieczny); his children, Grace Dumelle (Walter Podrazik), Margo, Lili, and Christopher (Colleen) Dumelle; and he was the papa of Cassandra and Audrey Dumelle. He was preceded in death by his brothers Frank and Edward (the late Anne) Dumelle.
Visitation was held June 17 at Drechsler, Brown & Williams Funeral Home in Oak Park. A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11:30 a.m. today, June 18, at St. Edmund Church, followed by interment at St. Joseph Cemetery. Inlieu of flowers, donations to the Environmental Defense Fund, 57 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10010 (edf.org) or Lane Tech, c/o “Lift Up Lane” Campaign, 2501 W. Addison, Chicago, IL 60618 (lanetech.org) are appreciated.