Joseph A. Tecson

With the passing of another year, it seems appropriate to remember some of those notable people from our communities whose lights were extinguished. Some were longtime public servants, some veterans and musicians. All were the kind of people who help make a community what it is. 

Stella Abram, 75

The longtime Hollywood resident was one of the authors of Brookfield, Illinois: A History, published in conjunction with the Brookfield centennial celebration. May 1.

Joseph Blas, 103

Captured by the German Army in 1939 while defending his native Poland, Mr. Blas (actually Jozef Blaszczykiewicz) spent six years as a German POW. He survived the war and immigrated to Chicago in 1950 and worked as a bricklayer. He later lived with his son in North Riverside and died on March 9.

Bud Burau, 64

A working musician for 40 years, Mr. Burau was part of the Buddy Love Review, which entertained crowds at the Riverside Arts Weekend in 2013 and 2014. He was also a member of the North Riverside Historical Society. April 20.

Allen V. Buresh, 66

A fine athlete who played softball for 25 years and was the starting center on the first-ever Triton College basketball team, Mr. Buresh was better known in Brookfield as the bartender at Buresh’s Lobster House on 31st Street. June 5.

 Bernardine Chimis, 89

A former Roman Catholic nun, Ms. Chimis was hired as a reading specialist (while still a nun) in Riverside District 96 and later served as principal at Hollywood and Ames schools for the school district. Jan. 18. 

 Kevin Close, 78

The longtime Brookfield resident was first elected to the Brookfield Public Library board before serving one term on the village’s board of trustees. In 1989, Mr. Close was elected Brookfield president, serving four years in that capacity. He later served for more than a decade as village manager of Lyons. Nov. 8.

Cathy Colgrass Edwards, 68

“Miss Brookfield” was a lifelong resident of the village, still living in the house in which she was raised. She worked as the director of the Brookfield Recreation Department until 2003 and was later elected to two terms as a trustee on the Brookfield Village Board. At the time of her death, she was serving as village clerk. Aug. 5.

 Francis “Patrick” Creadon Jr., 76

The longtime Riverside resident was former president of the Des Plaines Valley Mosquito Abatement District and a former member of the St. Mary School board. May 8.

Gerald Giovanoni, 86

A U.S. Navy veteran, Mr. Giovanoni served as a Brookfield police officer, retiring at the rank of lieutenant. He served as director of Brookfield’s Emergency Services and Disaster Agency (ESDA) and served on the Brookfield Public Safety Commission. July 9. 

Stanley Horonzy, 91

Mr. Horonzy, a longtime resident of Brookfield and father of eight, served in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II and fought in the campaigns to recapture Guam and capture Iwo Jima. He served as the keynote speaker at the 2010 Marine Corps Birthday Ball. Sept. 19.

George Hull, 66

The no-nonsense police chief of the Brookfield Zoo Police Department was a mentor for many fledgling police officers who would go on to police command positions themselves. He served as the zoo’s police chief for 32 years, but had worked at the zoo for 50 — first hired at 16 for a seasonal job. April 2. 

Bruce Jacobs, 80

For 37 years, Bruce Jacobs and his wife, Bobbi, operated Jacob’s Ladder, a gift store on Ogden Avenue in Brookfield. The store closed in early 2014. “I’m going to miss it terribly,” Mr. Jacobs said at the time. July 12.

William L. Johnson, 82

Mr. Johnson was a Brookfield police officer for 30 years, retiring in 1997 at the rank of sergeant. He was instrumental in the formation of the west suburban Major Case Assistance Team (MCAT), which pools resources to help smaller departments solve serious crimes. Feb. 15. 

Kenneth Kaval, 73

Mr. Kaval worked for 25 years in the Cook County Assessor’s Office. In Riverside he served on the school board at St. Mary School, was the chairman of the Riverside Plan Commission and served on the board of the Frederick Law Olmsted Society. He was also a Little League coach and manager as well as founder of the Riverside Recreation Department Soccer League. Aug. 18.

Henry Kotarba, 87

Mr. Kotarba never wore a tuxedo before opening Henry’s Formal Wear in Chicago in 1957. The Riverside resident’s business blossomed in the subsequent years, eventually growing to 14 locations in the city and suburbs. He retired in 1999. Nov. 7.

Valerie Kunz, 93

The longtime Riverside resident was best known as a columnist for the Riverside News, Riverside Landmark and the Suburban Life newspapers. In 1975 as part of Riverside’s centennial celebration, she authored a theatrical production titled “The Bend in the River.” She also owned and operated a Baskin-Robbin Ice Cream store in Palos Heights. Jan. 16.

Melissa Ledesma, 4

Brookfield residents and others — including Chicago Bears legend Brian Urlacher — rallied around Melissa, who was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. She was nicknamed “Melissa the Fighter” by family members and well-wishers, who tied red ribbons around trees as a show of support. Oct. 5.  

Robert E. Luebben, 88

One of Hollywood’s more colorful characters, Mr. Luebben was an infantryman during World War II and then taught math and coached golf at Riverside-Brookfield High School for 20 years before quitting to become a limousine driver. He was still playing golf daily at the age of 87. March 3.

Robert McDonald, 70

A U.S. Army veteran and retired electrician, Mr. McDonald was also fondly known as the “Mayor of Loca Mocha,” the Brookfield coffee shop he frequented. “He was an unassuming, super-friendly guy that everyone seemed to gather around and gravitate to,” according to Brookfield Police Lt. Edward Petrak. “Every morning, Bob would be in the coffee shop greeting customers and friends by first name.” Aug. 15.

Robert Moravecek, 88

An aspiring actor who worked both on stage and on radio, for CBS in Chicago, Mr. Moravecek served in the U.S. Army in World War II and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. After the war, he took over the family business, Moravecek Funeral Home. April 6. 

William S. Pasquale, 78

A jazz guitarist, Mr. Pasquale turned pro at the age of 15, and by 19 he was house guitarist at the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas. He later settled down in the Midwest, but kept performing, playing with such jazz luminaries as Johnny Hartman, Gene Krupa and Dodo Marmarosa. He eventually moved to Brookfield.  

Joseph A. Tecson, 86

A founding member of the law firm Chuhak and Tecson, Mr. Tecson served as the municipal attorney for the village of North Riverside and was a delegate to the 1970 Illinois Constitutional Convention. He also served as a Cook County Board commissioner and on the boards of directors at MacNeal Hospital and the Chicago Zoological Society. He was also the first chairman of the board of the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA).