Thirty-five years ago, as a novice school board member and father of six in Berwyn, I was fortunate that Judy Baar Topinka was available and she cared about all of us, especially kids and schools.

She answered every question and helped me with any problem I ran into. She was always available and always told the truth as only she could. I learned more from her about boards, politics and leaders than any other person in my life. There’s probably a thousand stories like this, often unknown.

I ran into Judy at Cantata while she was rehabbing her injured leg. She hugged me and spun me around like a polka dancer. Hand in hand we shared memories for 10 minutes. Another hug and a kiss and she was gone.

What a lady. She hadn’t seen me in 15 years but made me feel like a million.

Jim Zak

North Riverside