Bobbie was our guiding light

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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The Oak Park and River Forest High School Alumni Association lost a guiding light and one of its most passionate supporters when Bobbie Raymond Larson passed away on May 7. Bobbie was one of a small group of OPRF High School alumni who had an idea: to support current students in need through alumni-generated funding for academic efforts. 

With that goal in mind, the OPRF Alumni Association was founded in 2002. Given the popularity of special programs during the summer months, the Summer Enrichment Grant program was born.

Bobbie's untiring work has directly benefitted approximately 450 OPRF students, who have collectively received close to $500,000 in grants for summer enrichment programs. Without this funding, many students would not have been able to attend these programs, especially economically disadvantaged students and those in historically underrepresented groups. Many programs have been school-sponsored and include OPRF faculty, thus adding a tremendous value for the school as teachers bring what they have learned on these trips back into the classroom to share with others.

Many in the community know that Bobbie was a leading figure in Oak Park's Fair Housing efforts in the 1970s through the Oak Park Housing Center, and her contributions to a wide range of organizations like the Oak Park Art League, Oak Park Economic Development Corporation, and Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation. But above all, particularly over the past 17 years, she was a tireless advocate for Oak Park and River Forest High School, never hesitating to call administrators, teachers, and district leaders on issues she believed were important to maintaining the school's high standards.

Her work with the Alumni Association's Summer Enrichment Grant program demonstrated her belief that all students deserved equal access to activities that can enhance their high school experience and provide them with lifelong impact. 

It is no exaggeration to say that generations of high school alumni have benefitted from the tireless advocacy of Bobbie Raymond. She has been a major force in connecting generations of alumni to the school, helping to create continuity in the lives of OPRFHS community members.

Her driving spirit is an inspiration to all who knew her. We, the members of the Alumni Association Board of Directors, will miss her tremendously.

Scyla Murray Baielli, Karen Barg Baldwin, Colleen Phelan Biggins, Therese Brennock, Kevin Bry, John Costopoulos, Pati Carpenter Dossey, Tom Kerrins, Theresa Guarino Lipo, Mary Jo Hall Schuler

OPRF Alumni Association board 

Maureen Kleinman

Alumni Association Office manager

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