Odds and ends with some a bit odder than others:
Good people gone: There are the well-known pioneers in Oak Park’s recent history and then there are remarkable people, maybe lesser known, perhaps already a bit overlooked, who made this town the remarkable community that it is.
Over the past month, we’ve run obituaries for three such people. Greg Dell, Marie Kuda and Joe Scully.
In a time when bankers were not the friends of those working to build integrated communities — actually bankers were the profound enemies of integration — Joe Scully was very different. He rose to become CEO of the old St. Paul Federal Savings & Loan, headquartered on North Avenue, opposite Oak Park. It was a powerhouse institution and Joe Scully led it in progressive directions. He also joined bankers in Oak Park in creating the coalition of lenders at the core of the early Oak Park Development Corporation.
Where many communities fighting for racial integration saw capital sources choked off, Scully and other local bankers guaranteed an ongoing flow of loans for both commercial and residential investment here.
Scully’s influence was wide in Austin, in Catholic education, in fair housing in both Oak Park and Austin. He fought Parkinson’s for decades, in later years taking up boxing as a way to hold the disease more at bay.
Marie Kuda was one of many people in Oak Park who Wednesday Journal more or less missed during their lives. Only with their deaths did we come to see the wide influence and courage they showed.
An early leader in Chicago’s gay and lesbian history, she was, according to obits in Windy City Times and the Sun-Times, more or less the historian of this great civil rights movement. In the 1970s, she created a publishing imprint, Womanpress, which focused on lesbian literature. She gathered and collected more than 100,000 items — from documents to matchbooks — which chronicled the movement.
Tracy Baim, another legend in Chicago’s gay community, said that Kuda had given hundreds of presentations about gay Chicago history in those early days, back when being out and being outspoken was particularly brave.
Greg Dell, a Methodist minister, spent a decade — 1985 to 1995 — in Oak Park as pastor of Euclid Avenue Methodist. Here he was known for his inclusion as a minister and his activism, especially in battling homelessness and racism. He was among the founders of PADS, now known as Housing Forward.
It was after his move to a Methodist church in Chicago’s Lakeview that Dell gained notoriety when, in 1998, he performed a “holy union” service between two men. This led to a mighty battle within the Methodist church as Dell was put on trial within the church’s Northern District. He was suspended, though later reinstated.
Many good people pass through our lives. These are three who chose paths of leadership in this community.
Cubs vs. Sox: The Cubs weren’t the only Chicago baseball team making news last week. The White Sox parted ways with outfielder J.B. Schuck. Shrewd move, and I’m certain the start of a powerful resurgence at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Midweek Market RIP: Oak Park’s village board was expected Monday night to decommission a 2010 amendment to the Village Code which allowed the Midweek Market to exist from June to September. Sort of an orphan Farmers Market with alcohol, the event failed to catch on.
Another factor in the board’s decision Monday might have been that the site of the Midweek Market — Lake Street near Harlem — is now under a multi-story building being raised.