Condolences and memories from Oak Park–area notables and friends flooded in to Wednesday Journal at the news of Peter Traczyk’s death.
Village President Anan Abu-Taleb
Today our community mourns the loss of a great man.
Peter loved Oak Park. His contributions to our schools and village made our community a better place.
I just met with Peter last Tuesday to explore parking solutions for a local business. We stood outside the school discussing ideas with the business’ owner and the village manager. I am so grateful for that meeting, as I hadn’t seen him for about a month before that. Every time I met with Peter, I was inspired by his sense of commitment and desire to help others.
When Peter announced that he was going to run for the D200 board, I was excited and supportive. I have witnessed the value of his ability as a leader on the D97 board. Peter was instrumental in resolving the conflict between the Village and D97 last year.
He was a creative negotiator — informed, fair-minded and solution-oriented. He was a true leader. Peter shared his considerable talents to help make our community a better place. I am grateful to Peter’s family for sharing him with us, and our hearts go out to them during this difficult time.
We will miss this great man.
State Senator Don Harmon
The Harmon family joins the community of Oak Park in profound sorrow over the passing of Peter Traczyk, who personified the spirit of public service and engagement that animates our village. His death not only stuns us; it takes from us a valued leader and friend to so many. And the most painful loss of all is that of a loving husband and father, Teri and I send our heartfelt sympathy and prayers to Cindy and the Traczyk children.
Village Trustee Bob Tucker
Peter and I worked together a lot in the past year, looking for ways for the village and D97 to share resources and work collaboratively for the community good. Peter helped bring people together. He was so bright and thoughtful, and he could always make me laugh. I can still hear his big, ridiculous laugh on my back porch. But that laugh was Peter, and everybody loved it, and everybody loved Peter. He was a classy guy, and he was a friend. I’m going to miss him terribly.”
D97 Board of Education
We, like so many in Oak Park, were stunned by the news that Peter Traczyk had passed away over the weekend. The mere thought of such a devastating loss was impossible to fathom. As the reality of the situation set in, shock gave way to sadness…disbelief turned into despair.
However, as is often the case in times of tragedy, the healing process began in earnest with community members coming together to celebrate one of their own. They shared stories of how Peter touched their lives. They talked about his kindness, his generosity and his unforgettable smile. They spoke with great reverence of the positive and lasting impact he had on children. They reflected on his proud and storied legacy as a public servant, and reminisced about the fond memories they had of him as a coach and parent volunteer. Most importantly, they joined as one to honor the memory of a wonderful neighbor, husband and father who left us far too soon.
When we look back on Peter’s significant contributions to District 97, we remember his hard work and passionate commitment to education, which helped pave the way for the success of our schools and the children we serve. We remember how he gave Oak Parkers an active voice in shaping the future of our district by helping to establish the Finance Oversight and Review Committee and the Facilities Advisory Committee—two standing board committees that were founded on the principles of citizen engagement and participation. We remember the pivotal role he played in the passage of the district’s first operating rate referendum in more than 20 years, which lessened the negative effect of state cuts on our finances and enabled us to invest in initiatives that have enhanced the quality of the learning experience for our students. We also remember the respect and admiration he earned from his peers, which resulted in his selection as president and vice president of our board.
Through his unparalleled leadership and tireless dedication, Peter was able to build a better tomorrow for the village he called home since 1997. His pragmatism, collaborative spirit and straight-forward approach to problem solving, coupled with his sharp wit, wealth of knowledge and dogged persistence, helped us strengthen our relationships with our stakeholders and establish positive and productive partnerships with the other local governing bodies. He also championed the creation of innovative agreements with the Village of Oak Park, the Park District of Oak Park, District 200 and our four employee groups that will benefit the long-term growth and development of our community.
Forest E. Witcraft, a scholar, teacher and scout leader, once wrote “A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove…but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.” Peter Traczyk will long be remembered as a warm, wonderful and selfless individual who improved the lives of thousands of children through his noble words and deeds.
Rest in peace, Peter, and thank you for always being a dear friend and beloved colleague.
Oak Park Teachers Association
The leaders and members of the Oak Park Teachers’ Association wish to express our heartfelt condolences to the Traczyk family at this very difficult time. Peter was a wonderful board member, a true leader, a problem solver and a good friend to all who knew him. The school district is a better place for children because of his dedication, commitment and legacy of service. It is a very sad day for all of us. We extend our sympathy and prayers to his family.