From the President

Vol. XXIV No. 4 - WINTER 2013

By: Robert Remer

Thank you for supporting the Edgewater Historical Society for over 25 years.

We now come to the end of this silver anniversary year. We actually began our celebrations last October, commemorating the 10th anniversary of your community museum with a block party, an old fire engine, and reprisal of the ribbon cutting. It was great fun.

This past year was especially robust as we added more programs (several with standing room only crowds), reached our highest membership levels ever (over 600), established new partnerships, launched the fabulous Edgewater Living Treasures project, great exhibits, supported the book launch of a new history about Edgewater (attended by over 170 history buffs), and we welcomed almost 200 of you to our end of year Gala.

November 6, 2013 was a memorable gala celebration of our community and your historical society held at the stunning dining room of the Breakers at Edgewater Beach, on the very site of the original Edgewater Beach Hotel (EBH). Amid the music, ladies’ finest hats, friendly reunions, fine food, and dancing one could almost imagine Lake Michigan waves lapping upon the promenade of EBH just outside the dining room windows, before the days of Lincoln Park and Lake Shore Drive spelled the demise of that great icon.

Our very own award winning piano prodigy Steven Solomon entertained us before and during dinner. He played for EHS long before his debut at Carnegie Hall and we were grateful he joined us for such an important event.

The lovely evening was not long enough to thank and recognize each individual who made EHS possible, but we made a valiant effort to acknowledge and let stand present and former board members, our great docents and other volunteers, and our very special Edgewater Living Treasures of 2013.

Kathy Gemperle, our founding president who also made our museum possible, moved us with her journey back to our beginnings and reminding us the journey goes on. Dorothy Nygren emphasized the importance of volunteers and docents to our continuing successes, and Marty Stewart praised the accomplishments of Edgewater’s Living Treasures, encouraging nominations for next year’s selections.

The highlight of the evening was presentation of the first Kathy Osterman Edgewater History Maker Awards, named after Edgewater’s legendary community and political leader, whose history and accomplishments symbolize the importance of community in all we do.

Former 48th Ward Alderman Mary Ann Smith, and Living Treasure, recalled her many years with Kathy as a fellow working mother on community projects such as Operation Lakewatch and then as Chief of Staff when Kathy became Alderwoman. She fondly introduced her successor Alderman Harry Osterman who moved us all with great memories of his Mom, who we all know did such a great job raising him; she must be proudly looking down on her son and her community.

The first of our three awardees was introduced by Edgewater businessman Tim Rasmussen, co-owner of Acres and Ombra restaurants. He gave an eye opening and impressive profile of the accomplishments of Alderman Patrick J. O’Connor (40th) the one who made it possible for Edgewater to obtain the firehouse for our museum. Pat’s steady hand and continued support have enhanced and strengthened our community.

Longtime local businesswoman, Suellen Long, President of Bridgeview Bank Uptown, relished the chance to honor her special friend, former Alderwoman now businesswoman, Marion Kennedy Volini, responsible for ushering in the special Edgewater revolution of our community, taking control of its destiny and demonstrating the “rules of the road” along the pathway for Edgewater to work together.

We were delighted to welcome Rev. William Kenneally, Pastor Emeritus at St. Gertrude Parish, joining us to present the final award to his old friend, Rabbi Herman Schaalman. In the 1950s Rabbi Schaalman brought together the faith community to form the first community organizations that went on to serve and build today’s Edgewater. Rabbi Schaalman is world renowned in his own faith and demonstrates how love of one’s god, community and family come together in special unity.

We enjoyed a wonderful meal and hors d’oeuvres from the palette of the Breaker’s Chef Paul that dazzled the palates of Edgewater’s discerning diners. We were especially impressed with the professional hospitality of the Breaker’s staff and we must give special thanks to Mark Walker, Director of Dining Services, and Dr. Leslie Eldridge, Executive Director, for their unwavering support.

A hardy, tango prone crowd remained for more wine and a turn on the dance floor to the music of the award winning Tony Smith Show, Chicago’s longest playing night club act. Enjoying the music on the very footprint of Edgewater Beach Hotel were special guests Linda and Morris Ellis, who recently donated a chandelier from the iconic hotel where the Morris Ellis Orchestra played at the last private party before the hotel was torn down.

Many people contributed to make this such a great event. Betty Mayian and Katie Remer helped tremendously with the final site selection and working on the final arrangement details with the Breakers. Barbara Strauss was a huge help keeping track of all the reservations and all aspects of the gala. The superb program book was the work of Kathy Gemperle and Larry Rosen. Keeping track of such a big crowd were the unsung heroines at the desk Pat McParland, Megan Cunningham, Pat Duff, and Tiffany Middleton. Also photographers Mae Johnson and Gloria Evenson. Additional help came from Marty Stewart, Marsha Holland, Chris Grant, Al Borenstine and Mike Volini. Thank you all.

And thank you, Edgewater, for your support and for furnishing such a rich history for us to preserve.