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'Huge shock' in Palos Hills: Longtime pastor dies hours before Sunday's service

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

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Pastor Roger Disque gave a 47-minute sermon on July 12 at the First Baptist Church in Palos Hills about the evil in the world.

In the middle of the sermon he spoke of constant change faced by people every day.

“You know, when you look at our world, it is on shaky ground,” Disque told the congregation. “There is nothing stable in this world today. For the minute you think you found something, it changes. There is change all around us.’’’

One week later, members of First Baptist Church found his words to ring true an a tragic way as the man who served as pastor of their church for 27 years died Sunday, hours before he was set to deliver another message at the 11 a.m. service. For some members, he was the only pastor they knew.

Pastor Disque, 72, arrived at the church early to turn the air conditioning on for the 9:45 a.m. Sunday school class.

“It was hot and humid and he just collapsed in the parking lot,” his daughter, Erica Neff,  said. “This was a huge shock. We’re still not sure what caused it. He’s had some minor medical issues but we weren’t expecting this. He was not one to slow down.’’

A wake service arranged by Schmaedeke Funeral Home of Worth will be held at First Baptist Church, 11015 S. Eastwood Dr., in Palos Hills from 5 to 9 p.m. today, Thursday.

The funeral service with be held at 11 a.m. Friday at and the church will be open at 10 a.m. for viewing.

The burial service will immediately follow the funeral at Chapel Hill Gardens South Cemetery, 11333 South Central Ave. in Oak Lawn.The funeral dinner will be at the Garden Chalet, 11000 South Ridgeland Ave. in Worth.

Disque was the sixth pastor in the church’s history and he owned the longest tenure. Before coming to Palos Hills, he served 17 years as the youth director and assistant pastor at Bethany Church in Chicago’s inner city.

Those who knew him as a serious orator at the Palos Hills church might be surprised at his demeanor early in his career.

“He was goofy and crazy,” Neff said. “I know people might find that hard to believe. He would build haunted houses and enjoyed having fun with the kids.’’

Neff said Pastor Disque loved God, his family and his country. Disque was a Navy veteran who looked forward to helping put together a float to honor the military for the Independence Day parade in Palos Heights each year.

“To sum it up in one word, he was a ‘servent’,’’ Neff said. “He was the silent, strong type who served God, his family and other people. He tried to meet the needs of everyone.’’

Brother Dave Horner, a youth director and music/choir director at the church said he worked with Pastor Disque for 12 years.

“This is such a surprise and very hard to grasp,” he said. “This was a man who was never too busy for anyone. He was always visiting members of the church, even if they were having minor surgery. He was available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He was always shepherding his flock.’’

Horner said the church has between 75-120 members and is close-knit because many members are related to each other. He said there is a large Filipino representation among the members.

Survivors include his wife, Judy (nee Anderson) along with children Rachel (Jim) Garrison, Nathan (Meredith) Disque and Neff, who is married to Robert Neff. Also surviving is his sister Nancy (Fred) Shepper and 13 grandchildren.

He was born in Tarrytown New York and attended Bob Jones University in 1971 before coming to the Chicago area.

“He loved his people and loved his Lord,” Horner said. “He gave of his life in abundance to everyone. I enjoyed working with him for 12 years. He was a wonderful man.’’

 

Jeff Vorva's Im-PRESS-ions: The six degrees of separation -- Ed McElroy style

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

Jeffs Col Impressions

 

The Six Degrees of Separation game started gaining steam when people figured out that busy actor Kevin Bacon could be linked with tons of other great actors or actresses.

So, in one example, Bacon appeared with Edward Asner in the film “JFK.” Asner was once in “Change of Habit” with Elvis Presley. You can go on four more times with the connections, but I’ve given a little too much space to Kevin Bacon.

In the real world, this game could be played based on people that we have either met or shook hands with. Even if you haven’t met anyone famous, if you met or shook hands with someone who did, you are golden.

Even if you just met me and I am your first degree, you are in good shape. I’ve met a bunch of folks who will ratchet up your list.

For instance, I’ve met Sammy Sosa. He met Billy Williams. Billy met Leo Durocher, who met Babe Ruth who met a young college kid named George H.W. Bush, who met Dwight Eisenhower.

See, if you shake my hand, I can get you to the best baseball player ever and a president.

I’ve also met Jesse Jackson, who met Martin Luther King, who met India’s Prime Minister Nehru, who met Mahatma Gandhi, who met Charlie Chaplin who met Helen Keller.

So there you go.

Me and Helen. Who would have guessed that?

And if you want a president for your second degree, meet our reporter, Dermot Connolly. He met Barack Obama back in the day.

That brings me to Oak Lawn’s Ed McElroy.

The longtime radio and TV personality/public relations guru just turned 90 on Monday. There was a big bash celebrating the birthday on Sunday at the Beverly Country Club and some of the folks who were there included Alderman Ed Burke, House Speaker Michael Madigan, Blackhawks announcer Pat Foley, former Illinois Attorney General and former Lieutenant Governor Neil Hartigan, Jesse White and other local big shots.

I haven’t known McElroy for decades like many have, but I’ve known him since late 2012, when he was a young pup in his late 80s.

The most impressive thing about the guy, in my warped opinion, is that he had wrestler Yukon Moose Cholak over at his house.

But that might not impress the masses as much as it does me.

What should impress the masses is that his first degree of separation is about as majestic as other people’s fourth, fifth or sixth.

McElroy has been photographed with nine presidents -- Harry Truman, Eisenhower, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Lyndon Johnson, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford.

Just so you know, McElroy called Truman a “helluva guy.’’

Edward also met Pope John XXIII in the 1960s.

McElroy, a military veteran, never said that the pontiff was a “helluva guy’’ but said the Pope told him “Have your veterans pray that there will be no new veterans.’’

The Oak Lawn legend has hobnobbed with tons of sports figures over his career with the most famous being Ted Williams. Not many may agree with this because of Williams’ sour reputation, but McElroy insists Williams is also a “helluva guy.’’

When I asked Ed on Sunday if he met any famous people in movies or famous singers, he said he couldn’t think of too many. But when pressed a little more, he remembered meeting Frank Sinatra. This dude knows so many people that it took him some prodding to come up with Sinatra. Somewhere Sinatra is weeping in his grave.

He also met Red Skelton, Ed Sullivan, Pat O’Brien and danced with Rosemary Clooney.

E-Mac also met bandleader Tommy Dorsey and said Dorsey would call his mother every night. Wikipedia claims Dorsey’s married life was “lurid” at times and he had a trio of marriages and some alleged affairs, possibly living up to his hits  “You Can’t Cheat a Cheater” and “Fluid Jive.’’

 But he called his mother every night, by gosh.

I don’t have time to research it, but I’m wondering that if you could trace McElroy’s sixth degree all the way to Jesus Christ. Naaah…maybe a ninth or 10th degree, though.

Anyway, a lot was said Sunday about how McElroy has made a lot of people’s lives better during his 90 years on this side of the soil. And even if he didn’t make their lives better, he certainly improved the quality of their Sixth-Degree game.

 

 

Oak Lawn opens StoryWalk near its lake

  • Written by Dermot Connolly

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 Photo by Dermot Connolly

For the next few months, patrons can walk and read “The Watermelon Seed’’ in Oak Lawn's Lake Shore Park.


 

What is better than a walk in the park? Perhaps having a book to read along the way.

With the July 1 unveiling of StoryWalk in Oak Lawn’s Lake Shore Park, 96th Street and East Shore Drive, that is exactly what is available now for young children and families.  Brought to Oak Lawn through a partnership between Oak Lawn Library and Park District, the StoryWalk™ Project was created by Anne Ferguson in Montpelier, Vt., and developed in collaboration with the Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition and the Kellogg Hubbard Library.

“The Watermelon Seed,” by Greg Pizzoli, was the first children’s book to go on display in the park on the banks of Oak Lawn Lake.

“Wonderful things happen when people work together,” said Mayor Sandra Bury at the official ribbon-cutting. Among those joining her and dozens of families for the opening were Village Clerk Jane Quinlan, Park District Director Maddie Kelly, Park District Board President Gary Callahan, Secretary Sue Murphy, and other and library and park district officials.

“July is Parks and Recreation Month, so this is a great time to launch this,” said Kelly, adding that the idea to bring StoryWalk to Oak Lawn after she and others saw a similar display in a park in Glenview a couple of years ago.

David MacDonald, recreation supervisor for the Oak Lawn Park District, said the Park District and Library have been working on completing the project for the past two years. The 19 metal and plastic displays were handmade by Public Works employees over the past winter, and have the appearance of large encased books on stands.

Following the ribbon-cutting, girls in the Park District’s IndepenDance team kicked off the entertainment, performing several fast-paced dances. But most of the boys and girls seemed more excited about “The Watermelon Seed.” As soon as the show was over, they led their parents through the book display, laid out page by page, at numbered stations on the path through the park on the banks of Oak Lawn Lake.

In keeping with the theme, librarians dished out fresh watermelon and watermelon ice cream, along with other refreshments during the event. Park District volunteers also handed out sidewalk chalk and bubbles for children who wanted them.

Chicago resident Jeniece Drake-Weatherall, walked the path with her son, Destin, 5, who was eager to read each page displayed along the way. “We like all the programs the  Park District and the Library have,” said Drake-Weatherall. “Destin gets involved in a lot of them. That is how we found out about this.”

Kristina and Daniel Kynaston were there with their daughter, Emma, 4. “She is learning to read, and anything to do with books is good with us,” said Kristina.

Oak Lawn resident Jamie Guardi, and her three daughters, Nora, 6, Maggie, 5, and Kate, 3, also enjoyed the walk, and reading along the way.  While the girls said they liked the book, Jamie said, “I like that it is beside the park, with the playground equipment, and the water. There is something for everyone, and it gives you something to look at along the way.”

The displays will change seasonally, and MacDonald said the next book scheduled to go up in September is “It’s Fall,” by Linda Glaser.

That leaves a lot of time to find out what happens with “The Watermelon Seed.”

Jeff Vorva's Im-PRESS-ions: Don't trust anybody -- not even June Cleaver

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

 

Jeffs Col Impressions

 

Former professional ‘rassler Stone Cold Steve Austin had the right idea.

The anti-hero hero would lull you into a false sense of security and might even graciously stick his meaty paw out for you to shake. Then when you are ready to shake hands with the man, he kicks you in the walnuts and gives you a stunner and you flop around like a dying fish.

Then he laughs and screams at you “DTA! Don’t trust anybody!”

The World Wrestling Association even sold t-shirts with that phrase on it.

DTA.

Even those you think you can trust.

In recent months, a couple of folks with seemingly clean images have been accused of things that might even embarrass Bill Clinton or Tiger Woods.

Bill Cosby and Dennis Hastert.

What a pair.

Cosby was the comedian/actor who not only made us laugh, he would get on his high horse morally. Publically, he was considered a good guy. He talked a good game. He had pointed advice for anyone who wanted to listen.

Then news broke that he was involved in a variety of sexual assaults with young women. Apparently Hollywood insiders knew what was allegedly going on but it was a pretty tight secret to the rest of the world. Last week, word leaked that he had admitted via court records of drugging up women so he could have sex with them.

Now we have Mr. Hastert.

He was one of us – a guy from suburban Chicago. He graduated from Wheaton College, which has the reputation of being religious, moral and proper. He was a teacher and wrestling coach then dabbled in politics.

I remember growing up and hearing some of his speeches and he sounded impressive. The man said he was someone you could believe in because he wasn’t a true politician. He was just a teacher and coach from Illinois.

He was a man you could trust.

I wasn’t the only one impressed. The sometimes gruff, sometimes folksy Hastert was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1987.

It was almost a “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington’’ scenario.

He worked his way up to Speaker of the House. But in 2007, he was done with politics and fell out of the limelight and we forgot all about him.

Until…

Well, you know the rest. An ugly story about alleged sexual misconduct with young boys – some at the high school he taught and coached at – just keeps getting worse.

DTA.

Heck, you can’t even trust June Cleaver from “Leave it to Beaver” or Alice the maid from “The Brady Bunch” for goodness sakes.

Cleaver is considered the 100-percent pure All-American mom. Surely you could trust her, right?

Well, there was one episode in which she made a group of boys some sandwiches. Troublemaker Eddie Haskell requested that his sandwich should be free of mayonnaise because he is allergic.

If anyone deserves a beatdown or some bad karma to come his way, it’s that rascal Haskell. And June was out for vengeance – Cleaver style.

Eddie shoved Beaver around while Mrs. Pure was looking outside the window and June fumed. So she muttered something about putting mayo of Eddie sammich and painted the bread with a big dose of mayo. Later in the episode, we found out Eddie had to go home early because he was ill.

Geez, June – what if the kid died from your spite sandwich?

Now, it could be argued that Eddie was not too bright to even take one bite of a sandwich filled with something that would be hazardous to his health, but he trusted Mrs. Cleaver.

He should have listened to Austin.

Alice, the simple but pure-hearted maid from the Brady Bunch, was also involved in some deception when she and some of the kids went door-to-door to have neighbors sign a petition to save a park.

The kids got nowhere with one crabby guy but Alice took a crack at him with some come-hither looks and flirting. After the guy signed the petition, sweet Alice purred that she would come over that night and that the man could cook steaks and pop open some champagne.

Once the guy got all Cosby with desire, wholesome Alice then singed him and said she would bring her boyfriend along.

Ouch.

DTA

In this age of cynicism, nothing should surprise us anymore. But what are we going to find next? Dirt on the Pope? Tell-all stories about the late Mother Teresa?

There are not a lot of people we can place our trust in anymore. Maybe close friends and family. As for the the rest of the world? The skeletons in the closet have grown into big, fat monsters.

Maybe the only person we can trust is Stone Cold Steve Austin.

His advice is making the most sense.

 

Lexington House to close

  • Written by Sharon L. Filkins

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 Photo by Jeff Vorva

The Lexington House will give way to a used car showroom.

 

 

It is the end of an era.

The longtime iconic Lexington House Restaurant in Hickory Hills, host of weddings, anniversary parties, bridal and baby showers an even a couple of Bruce Rauner rallies, will soon be home to a new business. Its final even will be held Aug. 24.

The Hickory Hills Council unanimously approved a proposal last Thursday from DriveTime Car Sales Company, LLC., to open a used car showroom on the Lexington House property located 7717 W. 95th St. The company is in process of purchasing the land.

One of the Lexington House owners, Barbara Vuletic, was in attendance to support the project and the  sale.

“As hard as it is, our family knows it is time for this decision,'' she said. "Times change and unfortunately, our grandchildren are not inclined to carry on the family business. We are comfortable with the plans proposed by DriveTime for the property.”

The plans, as presented by Attorney Dan Sosin, of Sosin & Arnold, Ltd., in Orland Park, call for considerable changes to the front of the building.

“On average, there will be an inventory of approximately 100 cars at the facility,'' he said. "We will basically be using 40 to 50 percent of the existing building.”

Sosin said the company has the sixth largest volume of used car sales in the country.

“These are reconditioned cars. They are not just acquired and put on a lot, they are extensively reconditioned and then delivered to the showrooms.” he said.

DriveTime Car Sales currently has two locations in Illinois -- Lombard and Schaumburg. 

Mayor Mike Howley said that he had visited one of the facilities.

“It was an impressive showroom,” he said.

Howley and Alderman Tom McAvoy asked Sosin about plans for the existing parking lot. “It is in bad shape and needs to be repaired,” said Howley.

Dan Packowski, Managing Director of Real Estate for DriveTime, replied that the company has a standard protocol with their parking lots.

“We make a preliminary survey to see what needs to be repaired and seal-coated, both for appearance and safety,” he said.

Howley and Alderman Deborah  Ferraro also expressed concern about the landscaping and aesthetics at the front of the building. Howley told Sosin that the city has a consistent plan for 95th Street.

”We will want to see your plans for the landscaping,” he said.

Chairman of the Planning and Zoning Committee, Syed Imam, told Howley that the committee had met with DriveTime representatives and were satisfied with the proposal as presented.

“It is a good fit for the city.” he said.

Sosin said the company anticipates estimated sales revenue to the city at approximately $100,000 to $200,000 annually. Anticipated opening date is March, 2016 

After the vote, Mayor Howley thanked Vuletic and her family for their contributions to Hickory Hills since 1968.

“The Lexington House put Hickory Hills on the map. It is an iconic landmark. It saddens me that it will be gone,'' he said. "It was a rite of passage for teen-age boys to become busboys at the restaurant. In high school, you either worked at the Lexington House, the Sabre Room or the Delphian House.

In other action, a bid was awarded to Hasse Construction Company, Inc., of Calumet City, for drainage improvements on 85th Court, at a cost of $1,816,328.95. Village Engineer, Mike Spolar said the work is expected to start in August.

Also bidding on the project were John Neri Construction Company, Inc., and Riccio Construction Company.