Mary Jo Doyle 1939-2007
Mary Jo Doyle, Founding President and Executive Director for the Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society, died on December 16, 2007 after a battle with cancer. She was 68. Mary Jo led the RP/WR Historical Society from its beginnings at the Rogers Park Library in 1975. She co-authored two books about Rogers Park “Chicago’s Far North Side” and “Neighborhoods within Neighborhoods,” and spent countless hours collecting memorabilia, keeping in touch with neighborhood residents and expanding the contacts of the society in the community.
For the first 17 years of the organization, the collections were kept in Mary Jo’s house. When the Society finally put together enough funds to purchase a home, the collections were moved and continued to expand. In 1990 Mary Jo was named Executive Director.
When a group of neighbors in Edgewater met to discuss forming a historical society, Mary Jo made herself available to answer questions and lend her support. She was with us on our founding day in March 1988 at the Edgewater Library. She was with us on the opening day of our museum in October 2002. Mary Jo kept all kinds of connections going so that the two societies could work together in reviewing all the photos from the Lerner and in planning our home tours each fall.
Last July, when it became apparent that she was losing her battle with cancer, she did not stop working on all her projects. She just quietly told her friends the situation. The Society decided to honor her at a special summer event and the City Council issued a proclamation. Even as she rested in recovery from treatments for her illness, she kept in touch with everyone via her email.
Mary Jo left us in a better position because of her dedication to her community. We all learned something from Mary Jo. The history of a community is made up of the stories and events that are important to that community. The stories don’t have to make the news or be deemed important by a downtown standard. They just need to be passed on and shared from generation to generation.