An Open Letter to River Forest Village President Cathy Adduci, and the Village Trustees:

I find it difficult to write this “thank you” letter because I am overwhelmed with gratefulness and emotion. At the April 24 River Forest Village Board meeting, I received a handsome plaque containing a series of resolutions in my honor. This amazing tribute is especially meaningful to me because of the love and appreciation I have for River Forest. Indeed, it is this village that merits honoring.

I have often referred to our town as “an oasis of peace and natural beauty,” which I believe is an apt description. But there is much more to admire inside this oasis. Most of the residents are genuinely thoughtful folks, willing to help one another. The men and women of our police and fire departments, and those providing other services in the village are stellar examples of people-oriented, trained professionals. Every town in our nation would appreciate public servants of this quality. Our emergency services are excellent, and their kind of help (even capturing the two raccoons and a squirrel that have invaded my home over the years) is extraordinary. I have also benefited from the village’s forestry specialist who has guided me on preserving my beautiful trees. Most importantly, I will be forever grateful to the River Forest police who found my lost dog nine years ago.

Village services provided during the pandemic is of particular note. Also impressive was the response by volunteers to the “call for arms.” Organized to meet our urgent needs during this unprecedented time, they assisted many residents with sorely needed tasks. These extraordinary efforts are unusual and unexpected, adding to the assets of our town. Additionally, new friendships were forged, and I’m grateful that some of the village volunteers have become dear friends of mine.

I’d be remiss not to acknowledge and laud the education fundamentals taught in our schools. This was the primary reason my husband and I decided to build our home here. In the early 1950s, we were living in Maywood. Our young son had only been enrolled in kindergarten a few weeks when his teacher called. She said our son seemed bored and distracted because he already knew how to read. She admonished me for teaching him to do so at his young age. She stressed that kindergarten is where children are to begin learning their primary reading skills.

With that, my husband and I knew we needed to move to make our home in a village with a more progressive public school system. One visit to Willard School, and we were convinced River Forest was where our family belonged. We were very pleased with that decision as our two children, son Dan and daughter Barbara, thrived and excelled.

Dan graduated from Oak Park and River Forest High School, tied for first with his best friend, Bob Hansen. He went on to receive honors at Harvard University. Barbara graduated from OPRF in the top 10 of her 900+ student senior class, and went on to graduate with honors from Stanford University.

Yes, I am very proud of my children’s scholastic accomplishments, but even more so I value that they are kind and considerate human beings and that they are strong proponents of equality and justice.

I thank River Forest for the education and stability this community provided.

I know this heartfelt and sincere “thank you” letter is lengthy. My hope is that it demonstrates how much your proclamation, in my honor, means to me.

Harriet Hausman, a vital 99-year-old, is the oldest regular newspaper columnist in the United States, possibly the world.

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