The Cook County Medical Examiner's office determined Sunday afternoon that the death of Oak Park school leader Peter Traczyk on Saturday was from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Traczyk's body was discovered by a passerby at 11:50 a.m. Saturday in a field of the Forest Preserve on North Avenue near First Avenue, the medical examiner's office said. Traczyk, 48, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Traczyk's family issued a statement on his passing Sunday morning.
"We are deeply saddened by the profound loss of our loving husband and father, Peter Traczyk," the statement reads. "Peter was also a wonderful neighbor and a remarkable citizen of the Village of Oak Park, and we know that Peter's many friends will remember him fondly for his warmth, his generosity and his contagious laugh. We will miss him more than words can convey, and we ask that you respect the family's request for privacy at this time."
Traczyk is survived by his wife Cindy and three children who attend either OPRF or Percy Julian Middle School.
Traczyk served as a District 97 school board member since 2007. He served two years as board president. He was a candidate for the Oak Park and River Forest High School District 200 school board in the April 7 elections.
Traczyk lived in the 300 block of North Scoville Avenue. According to the D97 website, he worked as a certified financial planner with ING Financial Advisers, LLC. Traczyk served as board president when the district successfully passed a referendum in 2011. He was also influential in the most recent D97 teacher contract negotiations.
Village President Anan Abu-Taleb released a statement mourning the loss of Traczyk.
"Peter loved Oak Park," Abu-Taleb said. "His contributions to our schools and village made our community a better place."
Abu-Taleb noted that he had met with Traczyk last Tuesday to work on "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," he said.
Abu-Taleb noted that Traczyk was instrumental in negotiations between the village and D97 last year over construction of a new administration building for the school district.
"He was a creative negotiator -- informed, fair-minded and solution-oriented. He was a true leader," Abu-Taleb said.
An official statement issued by the D97 Board of Education registered the shock of his elected colleagues.
"We are incredibly shocked and saddened by the tragic passing of our friend and colleague Peter Traczyk. There are no words that can truly express the enormity of this loss for our district and community," it reads.
"Peter was a dedicated public servant whose passion, altruism and leadership had a profound and lasting impact not only on our schools, but on the entire Village of Oak Park. We will miss his brilliance and infectious sense of humor, which left an indelible mark on all who had the great honor and privilege of serving alongside him on the board during the past eight years. We will also always remember and be inspired by the strong work ethic, integrity and tireless commitment he displayed on a daily basis."
The Oak Park Teachers Association issued the following statement:
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.
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