The following narratives about Edgewater residents have a common thread of Immigration to America. We in Edgewater benefited both directly and indirectly from the contributions of these wonderful people whose passing we mourn.
Zora Rolny 1951-2005
Zora Rolny was born in Czechoslovakia in 1951 and came to the United States in 1969 in a story worthy of a cinematic retelling. As a high school student, she qualified for a national award that allowed her to pursue her studies in Paris. This was during the communist control of Czechoslovakia. She returned to her home town during a break in the school year and with her brother planned their escape. They got in touch with a Jewish relief organization, who gave them a contact in Rome. The next step was to get a visa to travel to Italy. However, they were denied this visa, so they applied to France and were given a visa. They returned to the Italian embassy and were given the Italian visa. The next segment of the journey involved transportation by train crossing the border into Italy at Trieste. Despite surveillance by the Yugoslavian border police, they were able to get into Italy and to Rome. Their mother back in Czechoslovakia crossed the border into Austria on a visa she had obtained earlier. Then her father was not allowed to leave the country and was detained for more than two years. Finally, when he reached the age of 56, he was allowed to leave and the family was reunited.
Zora met her husband, Dan Berland, while working in a Detroit hospital. They moved to Chicago about 15 years ago and lived in various places before moving to Edgewater in 1995. Zora became an active member of the Edgewater Historical Society and helped to raise funds for the new museum by taking charge of the Silent Auction for the fundraising events. Besides organizing the auction, Zora also donated her lovely art work to the events. Zora is sorely missed by her neighbors on the 5200 block of Lakewood and her many friends, as well as all those who worked with her as volunteers at the Edgewater Historical Society. Zora died in her sleep on August 4, 2005.
Hermine Beukema 1919-2005
Hermine Beukema was born in Oude Vater, Netherlands, where her mother, a nurse, and her father, an elementary school teacher, lived after WWI. They immigrated to America in 1925 and made their home in North Hollywood. In 1933, when her father died, life for the family, which included two younger sisters, became more difficult. Besides assisting in the care of foster children, she ran and egg and poultry route to contribute to the household income. During WWII, she was a riveter at the Lockheed/Vega plant. A real “Rosie the Riveter.” After graduation from high school, she attended UCLA briefly as an art major. Because of her musical gifts, in 1945 she earned a music scholarship to attend the Sherwood Music Conservatory on Michigan Avenue in Chicago. In 1952, she completed a Practical Nurse program at Cook County General Hospital. She later worked in the surgical unit and the infant nursing department while taking night classes at Northwestern. She also worked for the Rand McNally Publishing Company in the children’s book department for six years. Eventually, her perseverance paid off and she received a BA from the University of Chicago in 1955. Then, in 1959, she earned a Master degree in Education from the U of C and a Masters in Speech and Language in 1962 from Northwestern. For 27 years, she worked in the Chicago Public Schools as the visiting “Speech Teacher.” Over the years, Hermine sang with the Swedish Chorale and kept up memberships in the Architectural Society and the Chicago Botanic Gardens. In her later years, she completed an Associate of Arts degree from the Chicago Art Academy. Hermine loved learning!
Hermine also loved living in Chicago and Edgewater. She had an apartment on Glenwood in the 1960s where she began her adventure in “junking.” In 1980, she bought a condo on Catalpa and, in 1992, she participated in the Edgewater Home Tour. A few years later, in 1996, she purchased a single family home on Leavitt in the Bowmanville area. Although her health had deteriorated and she became legally blind, Hermine would not leave her beloved Chicago. She died June 3, 2005.
Gus Travlos 1935-2005
Gus Travlos was born in 1935 in Kefalonia, Greece. He came to the United States in 1950 as a teenager and married his wife June in 1960 at St. Andrew’s Greek Orthodox Church. The Travlos moved to Kenmore Avenue in 1964 and became active in the efforts to revitalize the area. They purchased several multi-unit buildings and restored them. Gus and June co-founded the Edgewater Development Company to manage their properties. Their daughter Tina joined them in the business. In the early days of renewal Gus became involved in security and beautification on Bryn Mawr and in the surrounding area. His dedication to the community benefited many people that he never met. Gus received Edgewater’s first annual Quality of Life Award from Alderman Smith for his years of active service to the Edgewater community. He is survived by June, Tina and a daughter, Elaine and Ray Nihlean, Tina’s husband. Gus died May 19, 2005 of heart failure.