v26-2 Living Treasures

Vol. XXVI No. 2 - SUMMER 2015

Edgewater Living Treasures are residents of Edgewater who have made a difference, some in a profound, fundamental way, and others in a small but significant action that has affected the well being of the Edgewater community. Their deeds were not driven by personal gain, but to help the people of the community – whether generating beauty, fostering harmony, helping the less fortunate or encouraging grass roots activity. Honorees have been selected from nominations from the community. They have generously served and inspired others by initiating educational and social programs for the needy, pushing for green spaces and access to the lakefront, promoting local business districts and supporting the arts. Living Treasures have helped create public spaces and organizations and they have imparted values which both celebrate diversity and build community. We honor them as people who took the initiative to make Edgewater the unique community it is today.

Mary Ann Collins

Improving the lives of older adults has always been Mary Ann’s focus and passion. As a volunteer at St. Gertrude’s parish, she helped elderly people in the neighborhood who really needed support. Eventually she took on the whole program, which became known as “Heart to Heart.” Mary Ann wanted to broaden the program to the Edgewater community as a whole because she felt this kind of care and assistance should not be limited to the parish alone. Starting with just 30 older adults and 20 volunteers, the program has increased to over 100 adults and 90 volunteers who help seniors that are isolated without regard to racial, religious or ethnic differences.

Paul Boyd

Once headed to the priesthood in Cincinnati, Paul instead headed to Chicago, then Edgewater. His almost 40 years of service have focused on community planning and appreciation of our great lakefront. A planner by instinct, he started a career working in urban renewal programs, then real estate. Over the years he became a significant force for improved and diversified housing opportunities in Edgewater. As President of the Edgewater Community Council, he threw himself into support of Operation Winthrop Kenmore and the ECC planning efforts, including forging new initiatives for lakefront preservation and planning.

To this day, Paul is very much involved with the Friends of the Parks and its Last Four Miles initiative extending the public ownership of Chicago’s lakefront.

Elston Elston

Elston has combined her passions for art and for education in her community for most of her adult life. Before coming to Edgewater, she was instrumental in starting a rehabilitation program at Hines Veterans Hospital for paraplegic veterans that focused on creating art projects. Later, as the art teacher at Senn High School, she inspired her students in countless after school programs, clubs and other school related projects.

Her activities in Edgewater also included working on all three Bricolage murals on the underpasses of Lake Shore Drive.

Tom Murphy

An accomplished scientist and academician, Tom Murphy, for almost four decades, found ways to turn those professional skills into big contributions to the Edgewater community. As a chemistry professor at DePaul, Tom had already been conducting research on the Great Lakes when, in the early 1980s, he teamed up with Edgewater’s iconic activists Mary Ann Smith and Kathy Osterman to form Operation Lakewatch, a citizens’ initiative monitoring Lake Michigan’s water quality when Edgewater’s beaches were being closed.

To the lasting benefit of all Chicagoans, and to the embarrassment of some government agencies, more formal and stringent efforts at water testing were implemented. More recently, Tom had been one of the progenitors of the Edgewater Environmental Sustainability Project, an ambitious community wide effort to make environmentalism work locally.


Congratulations to our honorees. Join us for a presentation of the awards on June 20, at 9:30 a.m. at the Edgewater Library.