Werner: ‘He was definitely a people’s mayor’

  • Written by Bob Rakow


Former Worth Mayor Kumingo’s death

saddens officials from all over the areamayor 2

Dan Kumingo enjoyed fishing and playing pinochle but his passion was the village of Worth.


“Worth was his town. He did everything for the village,” said Mr. Kumingo’s wife, Lillian. “He just loved working for his town.”
Mr. Kumingo, mayor of Worth from 1977 to 1993, died Monday after a long illness. He was 87.
A member of the village board before being elected mayor, Mr. Kumingo oversaw many major developments in the community during his 16-year tenure.
The train overpass at 111th Street and Harlem Avenue, construction of the Metra parking lot, development of the veteran’s memorial, the widening of several major streets and the addition of sanitary sewers in the community all were accomplished while Mr. Kumingo led the village, his wife recalled.
Current Mayor Mary Werner recalled getting acquainted with Mr. Kumingo when her children participated in youth baseball and Cub Scouts.
“As mayor, he always took an interest in the youth groups,” Werner said. “He was definitely a people’s mayor. He was a well-liked mayor. He and his wife were just wonderful people.”
Worth Trustee Colleen McElroy got to know Mr. Kumingo when she moved to the community several years ago.
“This makes me so sad,” McElroy said. “He was such a wonderful man.”
McElroy, the curator of the Worth Museum, said she sat down with Mr. Kumingo to obtain an oral history of the community in which he reflected on the town’s development.
“He was such a humble man. He was wonderful. I’m so fortunate to have the interview. The museum was a really big part of his life. It was very near and dear to his heart.”
She also credited Mr. Kumingo with offering occasional advice to her after she was elected to the village board.
Mr. Kumingo remained active in the community after he stepped down in 1993.Most notably, he was involved in an effort in 2003 to save the Worth Days celebration. The Worth Days Committee, which raised the bulk of the money for the fest was to be disbanded due to lack of interest. Money also was an issue for the fest, which had been going on since the late 1940s.
Mayor Edward Guzdziol was determined to save the fest. He called for a special meeting and proclaimed that there would be a Worth Days in 2004.
Guzdziol, Mr. Kumingo and 20 Worth residents met in late September. Marrs-Meyer American Legion Post 991 officials agreed to oversee the fest, which was scheduled to go through some changes, including change of dates and venue.

A new Worth Days Festival Commission was formed to replace the Worth Days Committee, and in September Worth Days kicked off at 115th Street and Beloit Avenue. There was a charge for the carnival for the first time in the history of the fest to help defray some of the cost but the fest was able to live on.
A World War II veteran, Mr. Kumingo was a member of the village board before being elected mayor. He also was a member of the Worth Lions Club and the Marrs-Meyer American Legion Post 991.
Mr. Kumingo and his wife were married for 65 years and lived the majority of that time in Worth after moving from Chicago.
“We had a good life,” said Lillian Kumingo, who recalled raising a family and traveling with her husband. “We did a lot of stuff.”
The couple met while working together in an office.
Gene Siegel, former mayor of Chicago Ridge, fondly recalled working with Mr. Kumingo when both men led the neighboring towns.
“Dan and I cooperated,” said Siegel, who retired in 2013 after 38 years. “He was very active in his community. He was a real gentleman.”
Chicago Ridge Mayor Chuck Tokar said he worked with Mr. Kumingo during the years Tokar was village clerk.
“He was just a great guy to work with,” said Tokar, who recalled planning a parade with Worth officials when the two communities celebrated their 75th anniversaries.
Palos Hills Mayor Gerry Bennett said he worked closely with Mr. Kumingo via the Southwest Conference of Mayors.
“I’m pretty saddened by it,” Bennett said. “Dan was always a classy guy. That town has lost a good mayor. Dan was everywhere.”
Mr. Kumingo is survived by his wife, four children, eight grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and many nieces, nephews and cousins.
Visitation will be held from 3-9 p.m. Sunday at Schmaedeke Funeral Home, 10701 S. Harlem Ave., Worth. A service will be held at the funeral home at 10 a.m. Monday. Interment is at Resurrection Cemetery in Justice.