Heading to ‘Little Company of Mary corner of heaven.’

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Sister Sharon Ann Walsh sat in a wheelchair near the front of St. Bernadette Catholic Church Tuesday morning and accepted condolences from several mourners who attended the funeral Mass for Sister Jean Stickney, 86, and Sister Kab Kyoung Kim, 48.

Sister Walsh appeared emotional at times during the 90-minute funeral Mass, which occurred nine days after Sister Stickney and Sister Kim, were killed when a car driven by Sister Walsh was hit head on by a pickup truck at 95th Street and Cicero Avenue in Oak Lawn.

Sister Walsh is the Provincial Leader for the American Province of the Little Company of Mary Sisters and the chairman of the board for the Little Company of Mary Hospital and Health Care Centers.

She left Little Company Mary of Hospital, where she was being treated for injuries sustained in the accident, to attend the funeral services. The wake for the sisters was held Monday at the hospital chapel.

Hundreds of people turned out for Tuesday morning’s funeral in Evergreen Park to pay their respects to the two Little Company of Mary Sisters.

“This has been a very difficult week for all of us,” said the Rev. William Sullivan, who concelebrated the Mass with several other priests from the area.

Sullivan recalled tears coming to his eyes when he learned of the fatal accident. “It’s time to grieve.”

But he added that it was appropriate to celebrate the sisters’ entrance into heaven, adding that Sister Stickney and Kim have been welcomed by the nuns who have gone before them into the “Little Company of Mary corner of heaven.”

“Today we grieve (and) we celebrate,” he said.

Sullivan also suggested that the sisters are martyrs because several more people may have been killed in the traffic accident had the pickup truck not hit their car first.

Peg Schneider, chaplain in the hospital’s pastoral care department, praised the sisters as selfless women during her closing remarks.

“We stand in love and remembrance of two good women,” Schneider said.

“Sister Jean, I would say, her name was goodness,” said Schneider, who said she often worked “under the radar” to accomplish her goals.

“She was gentle, loving and respectful,” Schneider said, adding that Sister Stickney was charitable and “saw the good in everybody.”

“We celebrate today a very generous woman with wonderful gifts,” Schneider said.

Schneider said Sister Kab Kyoung Kim, known to many as Sister Anna, was at her best working with children, including those she served in the hospital bereavement program.

“The language she really brought to us was the language of love,” Schneider said.

The sisters were eastbound on 95th Street Oct. 5 in the front of a lane of cars stopped at a red light at Cicero Avenue when a westbound pickup truck hit their car at 4:27 p.m., police said. Both died at the scene.

The driver of the pickup truck, Edward L. Carthans, 81, of Chicago, also died in the 11-car accident.

Police are awaiting toxicology reports on Carthans to help determine what caused him to veer into the opposite lanes of traffic after causing a four-car accident at 95th Street and Keeler Avenue. Witnesses told police that Carthans was initially seen slumped over his steering wheel at 95th Street and Western Avenue, but he refused help and drove away.


These trolls don’t know compassion from Adam

  • Written by Bob Rakow

A comedian and podcast host I thoroughly enjoy, Adam Carolla, does a bit on his show called “What Can’t Adam Complain About.”


Much of Adam’s comedic shtick is complaining about things. So during the bit, which is typically performed at his live shows, audience members are challenged to pitch topics that would be tough for him to complain about.


But no matter what happy, joyful topic his fans propose, Adam always finds a negative. A sunny day on the beach? Adam would say you risk skin cancer and will have sand in your shoes. A traditional holiday meal with family? Adam would remind you that someone’s bound to drink too much and start an argument.


I thought about the bit the other day after Oak Lawn resident Jenni Simpson shared with me Facebook posts in response to her decision to leave a bouquet of roses near the site of last week’s tragic 11-car accident.


Simpson’s attached the roses to a street light near 95th Street and Cicero Avenue on Monday morning. They served as the sole reminder of the horrific accident that took three lives on Sunday afternoon.


Tough to complain about that thoughtful deed.


I chatted with Simpson shortly after seeing a picture of the flowers on Facebook. She told me the accident left her numb. It was a terrible tragedy, she said, reflecting on the fate of the two nuns who perished when a pickup truck smashed into their car as they waited at a red light on eastbound 95th Street.


The sisters were powerless to do a thing. Yet, a third nun in the car survived. Why? Simpson seemed to be wresting with so many thoughts. She decided that honoring the deceased with a simple bouquet of flowers was the right thing to do.


Indeed. I doubt even Adam Carolla would disagree.


But a small number of Facebook trolls were up to the challenge.


Simpson took a fair share of shots on a community Facebook page. She was ripped for injecting herself into the story. She took grief for bringing her 7-year-old son with her to accident site. In fact, the criticism turned to the kind of name calling you’d expect to hear on an elementary school playground.


It’s incomprehensible to me. Makeshift memorials are commonplace today. They serve as coping mechanisms and a way to honor the deceased.


The day after Simpson brought her roses to the scene, a small memorial was up, including two wooden crosses and a heart bearing the names of the three who died in the crash.


The crosses were put there by Greg Zanis, of Aurora, who runs an organization called Crosses for Losses. He’s placed more than 11,000 wooden crosses across the country since his father-in-law was murdered in 1997. It helps him cope with his personal tragedy. He hopes the crosses do the same for others.


In a small way, that’s what Simpson was doing with her single bouquet of flowers. She took a few moments out of her day to remind the folks driving on 95th Street that something horrible happened one day earlier. Lives were lost and so many other lives will forever be affected.


But a few people had issues with Simpson and let her have it behind the safety of the Facebook wall. They ought to be ashamed of themselves. So too should the folks who posted a bevy of inappropriate comments on Facebook the night of the accident.


I have no idea whether they didn’t like the bouquet of flowers or if they have some other axe to grind with Simpson. Doesn’t matter. It was not the time or the place. When did it become OK to lay into a person for handling their grief and expressing their condolences in their own way?




As far as Simpson bringing her 7-year-old son to the site, that’s her call as a parent. She didn’t bring him to the horrific crash. Rather, she taught him a valuable lesson the following day about honor and doing the right thing.


It’s a lesson some other folks on Facebook certainly could use.



Jeff Vorva's ImPRESSions: Becoming a lover of the covers

  • Written by Jeff Vorva


Jeffs Col Impressions

People around me who have heard me singing the old Whitney Houston hit “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)’’ can blame Charles.

No, not Charles Richards, the former owner of this newspaper. I’m talking about a store I discovered in Naperville called 2nd and Charles.

This is one of the coolest stores I’ve been to.

Most the stuff is used but it’s a huge store with huge selection of CDs, DVDs, books, comic books, t-shirts, records, electronics and probably some other stuff I’m forgetting. I could spend a week in the store and not be finished.

There are more than 20 of these stores located in America, but only three in the Midwest and one in Illinois. The Naperville store, located at 336 South Route 59, had been open for just 10 months according to the guy who checked me out. I mean, the guy who took my money after a purchased a CD, not a guy who was...ah forget it.

About that purchase?

I love going into a store and finding something I have never seen before and for some reason, a live David Byrne CD from Austin Texas had escaped me all of these years until my inaugural trip to the store.

The live set featured some of Byrne’s solo work and some of his Talking Heads tunes. But at the end, he throws in a pretty cool cover of Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)’’ that makes a song I really never cared about into something I’ve been singing or whistling to for a week.

So if any developers in this area want to bring a really neat store to the south suburbs, give Charles a call.

HEADLINE – Speaking of covers…

The burning Byrne cover reminds me of some other unlikely cover combinations that work surprisingly well.

To me a good cover tune is one that is radically different and better than the original, whether I liked the original or not.

Case-in-point – pop tart Britney Spears’ “Oops!...I did it again’’ is a catchy but disposable tune that was covered by Richard Thompson. Thompson is a guitar genius whose lyrics can be twisted, edgy, haunting and occasionally creepy. His version and arrangement give the song a whole new dynamic.  Thompson has covered everything from Spears to forgotten 16th Century songs with more hits than misses.

The Clash’s punk-pop hit “Train In Vain” is an outstanding song on its own merit. But Dwight Yoakum’s hillbilly version and Annie Lennox’s gospel-tinged version of the same song actually trump the Clash’s version.

 The White Stripes’ edgy “Seven Nation Army” sounds strangely wonderful by the Oak Ridge Boys and their country-pella, Bosshoss by its yee-hah style and Marcus Collins and his bluesy approach.

Speaking of Nation, my all-time favorite desecration of a song is Queen’s rocker “One Vision’’ turned into “Geburt Einer Nation” an German-style anthem by Yugoslavian industrial snarlers Laibach.

HEAD – Ultimate cover band

While the Ramones are my favorite band and they do some great covers of 50s and 60s songs such as “Palisades Park” and “Surfin’ Bird’’ the ultimate cover band in my mind is Pearl Jam.

For those who think that Eddie Vedder and the boys nothing but a bunch of serious grungers, you might be surprised that in their concerts they let loose with some pretty incredible covers.

They tackle a whole lot of songs and styles including the Beatles (“You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away”), Generation X (a scaled down “Gimme Some Truth”), Otis Redding (“Sitting on the Dock of the Bay”), Devo (“Whip It”) plus multiple songs by the Who, Ramones and Split Enz.

Tom Petty’s “Won’t Back Down” was never one of my faves, but Eddie’s haunting voice and a guitar is all that is needed to turn this into something special.

And to go full circle, recently Willie Nelson turned in a brilliant cover of Pearl Jam’s “Just Breathe.”


Next up: contamination examination

  • Written by Bob Rakow


Page-5-3-col-eyesoreChicago Ridge officials found a buyer for the abandoned truck terminal but the property’s future depends on testing for contamination in the coming months. Photo by Jeff Vorva.

Chicago Ridge finds buyer for abandoned truck terminal but

soil testing must be done before development starts

A developer with experience building the biggest commercial properties in Chicago Ridge is ready to take on his next challenge in the village.
Ken Tucker of Structured Development, located in Chicago, is the point person for the potential development of the abandoned Yellow Freight trucking terminal.
Tucker was instrumental in the development of both Chicago Ridge Mall and Chicago Ridge Commons, Mayor Chuck Tokar said.
“He’s got the Ridge experience,” Tokar said.
But specific plans for and area on Harlem Avenue village officials have called an “eyesore’’ have not been made public and there needs to be testing for contamination done before moving forward with any plans.
Yellow Freight abandoned its truck terminal about five years ago. Since that time, redeveloping the Harlem Avenue terminal and some adjacent property has been the village’s top priority.
To that end, the village recently partnered with Structured Development to create the Ridge Creek Joint Venture Partnership.
The village purchased the property from Yellow Roadway Corp. for $14 million. The purchase contract is contingent on the condition of the property, Tokar said.
The village board also approved an ordinance that designates the Yellow Freight property and the adjacent land as a tax increment financing district. The TIF district is bordered by Harlem Avenue, the Tri-State Tollway and Southwest Highway.
But bringing a developer into the mix is an important step, Tokar said.
“The village is no longer the one holding the contract of purchase,” he said.
Structured Development will spend the next several months performing due diligence on the property, including taking soil samples and conducting detailed market studies.
Testing Services Corp. of Carol Stream is performing soil borings and will prepare an environmental report within the next several weeks, Tokar said.
While the 75-acre trucking terminal is mostly covered with concrete or asphalt, a garbage dump once existed adjacent to Stony Creek, so the possibility for contamination exists.
Additionally, Tokar recently learned that some of the land south of 103rd Street was used as a dumping ground for debris that accumulated after the 1967 tornado.
But the mayor is encouraged by Tucker’s belief that the terminal and adjacent land can be developed.
Marketing studies will help determine the businesses best suited for the development, but Tokar believes that the steady stream of traffic on the tollway—estimated at 270,000 cars daily—is the key selling point.
“You just don’t know what is going to be appealing to the market,” Tokar said.
But he envisions big things for the parcel.
A mixed-use development that would feature family entertainment options, such as Dave & Buster’s; a multi-level, heated golf driving range similar to Top Golf in Wood Dale or an indoor skydiving facility similar to iFly in Naperville and Rosemont all are under consideration.
The development also could feature shops, restaurants and condominiums or townhomes, Tokar said. Hotels, a conference center or an venue for entertainment also are under consideration, he said.
The shuttered Aldi, located at Harlem Avenue and Southwest Highway, and the long-closed Nikobee’s restaurant at the northeast corner of 103rd and Harlem, are included in the district. Additionally, Burger King, the Blue Star Motel, the Glendora House reception hall and a storage facility, all located north of 103rd Street, would be razed to make room for new development.
The TIF district enables the village to float bonds that would finance construction of a mixed-use development at the Yellow site and throughout the district. In a TIF district, real estate tax revenues yielded by properties that increase in value are used to fund improvements within the district, or as an incentive to the developer.


Another black Sabbath: Three doctors die in Palos Hills plane crash one week after two nuns and a senior die in Oak Lawn car crash

  • Written by Jeff Vorva


Page-1-Plane-possibliltyPhoto by Jeff Vorva Local police and federal officials work the scene Monday morning.

Palos Hills resident Michael D’Alessio was on his computer Oct. 5 when he started watching video of the fatal car crash in Oak Lawn that claimed three lives.

One week later, he and his family were up close and personal with a tragedy a lot closer to home.

A plane crashed in a small field in the 10100 block of 86th Court in a residential area Sunday night claiming the lives of three doctors from Kansas in the plane.  No one from the area was injured and no major damage occurred to any of the houses.

Police say they were dispatched to the scene at 10:40 p.m. D’Alessio lives a block away and said he was able to survey some of the wreckage before police arrived.  It marks two Sundays in a row that a major accident in the area claimed three lives.

“This is back-to-back tragedies,” D’Alessio said. “It’s crazy.’’

Sunday’s plane crash claimed the lives of 34-year-old Tausif Tehman, 36-year-old Ali Kanchwala and his wife, 37-year-old Maria Javaid. Rehman was a neurosurgeon and Kanchwala was a pulmonologist who both worked at a hospital in Topeka while Javaid was a cardiologist in Kansas City, Kan.

National Transportation Safety Board officials and local police said that the Beechcraft Baron took off from Midway Airport and was heading to Lawrence, Kan., and crashed at approximately 10:40 p.m. Official said the plane was near vertical when it crashed into the field.

“Dr. Rehman and Dr. Kanchwala were extremely valued, highly skilled and beloved members of our staff,” said Randy Peterson, president and chief executive officer of Stormont-Vail HealthCare in Topeka said in a statement. “We are heartbroken. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these individuals and the staff who worked closely with them. These physicians were deeply committed to their patients and to bringing the best of care to our community. We also extend our deepest sympathies to the Providence Medical Center staff for the loss of Dr. Javaid.”

Officials are speculating that the pilot, Rehman, may have been looking for a spot to land the craft that would not have injured anyone.

Members of the Palos Hills community breathed a sigh of relief that it didn’t claim more lives.

“Everything was contained to an empty wooded lot between two homes,” D’Alessio said. “This whole area is a densely populated area. It’s unfortunate that there was a loss of life but it could have been much, much worse.’’

He then pointed to an apartment complex area along 86th Avenue and said, “Could you imagine if it crashed there? We were very lucky.’’

D’Alessio had an earwitness account of the tragedy.

“I was asleep and I was awakened by the sound of a prop plane decelerating,” D’Alessio said. “It was r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r and then there was a split second of silence and then boom. I said, ‘a plane crashed.’ I just knew it.

“I ran outside expecting to see smoke and flames and fire and hysteria and there was nothing. It was just quiet. I said that we had to call 911. I didn’t know if I was dreaming. Our neighbors were looking around. We saw some activity and ran to the scene. There was wreckage all over the place. I happened to be standing next to a seat from the plane.’’

His wife, Sue, was up watching television when the crash occurred.

“I heard it and I felt it – you could feel it in the house, it was so low,” Sue D’Alessio said.

Their daughter, Amanda, said she posted on Twitter that it sounded like a car crashed near their home. Then she found out what really happened and posted a few photos online of the wreckage. The Stagg student soon started hearing from various television stations and news outlets asking her for her photos.