Above / In light of Women’s History Month, during the March 19, 2019, City Council Meeting women were invited to share the spotlight for their dedication to community, representing “a broad gamut of professions and interest,” according to organizer Rena Tamayo-Calabrese.
Consider that since 2015, four of the nine seats on the Naperville City Council have been filled by women. With that fact in mind, the timing seemed right during Women’s History Month to recognize Becky Anderson, Rebecca Boyd-Obarski, Judy Brodhead and Patty Gustin along with a plethora of accomplishments of other local women among men.
Councilwoman Gustin and President/CEO of Naper Settlement Rena Tamayo-Calabrese planned to present a Mayoral Proclamation to celebrate Women’s History month at the City Council Council meeting starting at 7PM Tues., March 19. And so they did.
“This great city was built, planned and envisioned by amazing women, as much as men,” noted Tamayo-Calabrese when she provided an overview of the details for the evening’s presentation.
On behalf of Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico, Councilwoman Gustin said she was “privileged” to read the following proclamation:
OFFICE OF THE MAYOR
CITY OF NAPERVILLE, ILLINOIS
WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH IN THE CITY OF NAPERVILLE
MARCH 19, 2019
WHEREAS, March is Women’s History Month
WHEREAS, Naperville is proud to be a City that benefits from the leadership and service of countless women throughout its history.
WHEREAS, The Naperville Heritage Society is the keeper of the collective story of our City, and has devoted more than 50 years to collecting, preserving and teaching about the stories of the women who have built and strengthened our community, and
WHEREAS, Women in Naperville serve and have served at all levels of our City government, as well as in our local businesses, organizations, institutions, and community groups.
WHEREAS, We honor them all—past and present—for inspiring and empowering today’s women to advocate for their beliefs and pursue their dreams without hesitation, and
WHEREAS, Naperville strives to foster equality, celebrate diversity, and promote understanding. We express our gratitude for all Naperville women who build the foundations upon which our community stands in order to create a brighter future,
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Steve Chirico, Mayor of the City of Naperville, do hereby proclaim March as Women’s History Month in the City of Naperville.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and affixed the seal of the City of Naperville this nineteenth day of March 2019.
Your PN publisher is fortunate everyday to be surrounded by tributes to women who played big roles in Naperville and beyond. For one, naturalist May Theilgaard Watts is remembered at May Watts Elementary School and May Watts Park, just around the corner from our home in the West Wind neighborhood.
May Watts (1893-1975) enjoyed a passion for preserving, writing and teaching about the great outdoors at the Morton Arboretum. In 1963, the 35-year Naperville resident became the inspiration for the Illinois Prairie Path.
And today, naturalist Watts is best remembered worldwide for her dedication to the Illinois Prairie Path. Certainly the educator would find it fitting that a trail at May Watts Park leads to a District 204 elementary school named for her.
And Lake Osborne is named in memory of civic leader Marjorie Osborne, an advocate for water resource management. The lake in a natural setting is just north of our West Wind neighborhood and south of the Naperville Public Safety Center, with an entrance at 1380 Aurora Avenue, just west of the Public Safety Center.
When digging into the history of Osborne’s local leadership, interested residents will learn that in June 1972, a referendum caused the dissolution of Elementary District 78 and High School District 107 and the formation of a 32-square-mile Community Unit School District 203 that exists today. Osborne ended up being elected on Aug. 12, 1972, to serve the new district with Daniel Butler, Mary Lou Cowlishaw, John Dahlberg, Dean Davis, Wilma Reschke and Andrew Wehrli.
In the mid to late 1980s, Osborne, a former member of the Naperville Plan Commission, also served as president of the local preservation society.
Introductions to women at Naper Settlement
When our family settled here in 1993, our lives were richer when we met women such as Vicky Joseph, founder of Families Helping Families; Peggy Frank, Executive Director of Naper Settlement; Peg Yonker, Former President of Naperville Heritage Society; Kay Stephens, charter member of Naperville Heritage Society; Jane Sindt, founder and charter member of Naperville Heritage Society that led to Naper Settlement; Rita Fredenhagen Harvard, philanthropist who gave the Cock Robin property to the City for Fredenhagen Park; Dottee Krejci, founder of Little Friends; Mary Lou Cowlishaw, Illinois State Representative; and Peg Price, Naperville Mayor.
While working in the public relations department at Naper Settlement, it was easy to become immersed in stories that had been recorded as the outdoor history museum prepared to celebrate its first 25 years in 1994. Volunteer board members such as John Stephens, Jack Powell and Tom Bursh were just a few of the men who frequented regularly with their wives to add their dedication to the growth of the museum village.
Their contributions just scratched the surface of the influence that women have had since much earlier days in this attractive community. For instance, Almeda Naper, Joe Naper’s wife; Hannah Ditzler, Naperville native born in 1848 who kept detailed diaries and scrapbooks; and Caroline Martin Mitchell, last descendant of Naperville pioneer George Martin, made a difference, too.
Naperville Woman’s Club since 1897
Way back in 1897, another group of Naperville women founded the Naperville Woman’s Club. Ever since they’ve gathered for informative meetings such as the presentation by Rick Klochner set for 7PM on Wed., March 20. Naperville resident Klochner will speak about adapting to a multi-generational membership model at the 95th Street Library. The public is welcome. In June, the woman’s philanthropic organization also is celebrating 60 years as organizers of the NWC Art Fair, renamed this year as Naperville Fine Art & Artisan Fair. The art fair returns to Naper Settlement from 10AM to 5PM June 22 and June 23, 2019.
Upon her death, Caroline Martin Mitchell is the one who gifted Pinecraig, a Victorian mansion; and 200-plus acres of property to the City for use as a museum, a public park and “the public good.” In addition to Naper Settlement, the property is now home to Naperville Central High School, Knoch Park and more.
This year, Naper Settlement will celebrate 50 years!
And the list including influential women who collaborate with men goes on and on as pictured in the photo at the top of this post.
Update from President/CEO of Naper Settlement Rena Tamayo-Calabrese
“Once again, I take a moment to thank all of you for joining us yesterday to celebrate Women’s History Month,” emailed President/CEO of Naper Settlement Rena Tamayo-Calabrese on Wednesday morning.
“We had a terrific turnout, though we all know there are many, many more of us working each day to make this a thriving community. Let us remember that we stand firmly on the shoulders of some magnificent women, and that we are in their debt for delivering broader horizons. I feel privileged to work and stand shoulder to should with you and was so proud to be surrounded by so much girl power! Thank you all.”