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Jeff Vorva's ImPRESSions: These two men have touched a lot of lives

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

Jeffs Col Impressions

Tom Mulhern is dying.
  Ron Moir died in August.
  Chances are good that no one in this area heard of either one of these two gentlemen but since this tends to be such a small world, it wouldn’t surprise me if a couple of you do know who they are.
  Major league entertainers such as Robin Williams and Joan Rivers have passed with great fanfare and rightfully so because they touched so many lives.
  Mulhern and Moir may not have touched pag3-moir-for-jv-colRon Moir (top photo) died in August and wasn’t around to find out the massive impact he left on people’s lives while Tom Mulhern (bottom photo) has a one-in-a-million disease and has had an opportunity to find out how many lives he has touched. Bottom photo courtesy of Wisconsin State Journal.Page-3-Mulhernmillions of lives, but they have touched thousands and made a huge impact on people they have come in contact with.
  Moir was my nephew. He died suddenly at age 48. His death was a huge shock to our family. He didn’t seem to have any health issues that we knew of, but succumbed to a blood clot to the lung and was gone.
  I would see him a couple of times a year and knew that he worked his way up the educational ladder and reached the lofty position of principal at a grade school in Ottawa. Illinois, not Canada.
  His wake drew about 1,000 people. Some folks had to stand in line for two hours to get close to the casket. There were teachers, students, former students, parents, colleagues and even a woman who drove a school bus who had glowing things to say about him.
  The Ottawa Times did a story on him and reporter Michael Billy regaled stories of how Ron brought freeze pops for teachers and workers in the building during 100 degree days his first summer as the school’s boss and how he helped a special needs student with his bus situation after trouble brewed.
  “He went above and beyond for my son,” the student’s mother told Billy.
  Those are the kind of things that didn’t come up during our Thanksgiving conversations. We talked Cubs. We talked books. We talked history.
  We talked about our kids and their athletic careers. When he got to the top as a principal, we started talking about the jolly fun we had of attending school board meetings.
  After we burped up turkey and watched football games, it never occurred to him to say “Oh, by the way, a couple of weeks ago I helped a special-needs kid with his bus situation.” It was just another of many cool things that he did for people that was routine for him. No reason to bring it up.
  Way up north in North Dakota, a journalist named Jerry Burnes wrote a column about how Ron was his journalism teacher at Wilmington High School and inspired him to get into this racket. “I am forever thankful to you, Moir, and I hope you keep on reading,” was how Burnes closed the tribute.
  Having someone die sudden and young is tragic enough but it’s also a shame that Ron wasn’t around to see how many lives he touched or all the nice things these people in the funeral home had to say about him.
  That brings me to Mulhern.
  I worked with Tom in the mid-1980s in Joliet and we weren’t real close. However I do remember a long phone conversation I had with him while I was mulling leaving home to take a full-time job in Crystal Lake. He gave good advice and was very encouraging to me and it lessened my angst about taking the job.
  Another thing that I remember is that my mom, who usually only read my stories in the sports section, somehow became a big fan of his columns. There was something about his writing style she liked. After I left Joliet to work in Crystal Lake, she called one day tell me Mulhern was leaving to take his dream job of covering the Green Bay Packers and how much she would miss him.
  I would bump into him every year or two and it was evident that covering the Pack wasn’t exactly a dream job anymore and he left that beat and spent the rest of his career on the University of Wisconsin football beat.
  This summer, he found out he was a one-in-a-million guy.
  And that’s not a good thing.

Food for thought - EP shoppers still on hold for Mariano’s

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Mariano’s opened its doors in Oak Lawn on Sept. 9 but Evergreen Park residents will have a few more months to wait before the popular grocery store opens its doors in their village.

Evergreen Park Mayor Jim Sexton said the success of Mariano’s grand opening in Oak Lawn is a good sign for the Evergreen Park store, although he knows some of his residents have already crossed the border and have shopped at the Oak Lawn market.
“We’ll just have to steal all the shoppers back,” Sexton joked at Monday night’s village board meeting. “I’m sure ours will be nicer.”
So when will the new place open in EP?
“We’re still hoping for a spring opening,” Sexton said. “It got a slow start.”
In the meantime, the village board approved a business license for PetSmart, 2603 W. 95th St., which will be located adjacent to Mariano’s. That store is expected to open in October.
Mariano’s and PetSmart will be located on the former Webb Chevrolet dealership site.
Mariano’s originally was expected to open for the holiday season, but the past rough winter and some minor issues with ComEd caused the store to push its projected opening date to early 2015, Sexton said.

The 70,000-square-foot store will feature produce, seafood, a sushi and oyster bar, flowers, salads, a coffee shop, wood-fired pizza oven, homemade salsas, a bakery, a deli, fresh meat, a cheese counter and prepared foods.
In other business, the village board:
• Approved a real estate contact with Dr. Hamdi M. Khilfeh, who plans to open offices at the former Hornburg-Klein Evergreen Funeral Home, 2955 W. 95th St. The village purchased the property about one year ago. Sexton said it is ideal for a physician’s office because of its proximity to Little Company of Mary Hospital.
Sexton said most of the historical building will be kept intact.
“They’re going to leave the majority of the building up. The main part of the building and the integrity of the building is staying,” Sexton said.

This fall, Winter hopes to scare you in Hickory Hills

  • Written by Kelly White

The art of scaring people isn’t as easy as it used to be, but Hickory Hills resident Jason Winter is going to give it his best shot.

This fall, under Winter’s watch, Hickory Hills has a reason to be prepared for bad dreams because Nightmares Haunted House is set to open up on Oct. 10 in the Hickory Hills Shopping Center at 8720 W. 87th Street.
The slogan is: “We are what you fear”.
But what do people fear in 2014? That’s the trick that Winter hopes to figure out.
With 18 years of experience in the haunted house business, he is hoping he still has what it takes to scare the bejesus out of people.
“I love the creative challenge to creating an elaborate haunted house,” Winter said at last Thursday’s City Council meeting. “It starts with the layout, which will dictate the flow. No one wants the pay money for a six-minute walk-through which is common with a lot of our competitors.
“Next is to integrate the scares, which you will succeed 85 percent of the time. We’ve become so jaded in recent years because we are such a culture of violence and horror that we often look for more. So, I like to give a great hit along with a detailed set. I look at it as putting you in the middle of a horror movie.”

Birthday BASH

  • Written by Kelly White and Jeff Vorva

page-1-watermelonPalos Hills’ Tom Cameron broke cement slabs (photo below) and a watermelon (above) with his bare hands during his 60th birthday celebration on Aug. 30. Submitted photos.Palos Hills man breaks concrete, watermelon on 60th birthday

This guy can bash bricks and boards with his bare hands.PAGE-1-inset

He can chop a watermelon in half and he doesn’t even need a knife. His mitts will do quite well.
Palos Hills’ Tom Cameron has spent four decades in martial arts and aside from the discipline and life lessons that he learned, he likes to bust things.
You would figure that that a guy who is getting older would probably scale back on the destruction.
You would figure wrong.
Cameron celebrated his 60th birthday Aug. 30 by smashing 60 cement slabs at St. Mark Lutheran Church in Worth.
It would have been fitting is Cameron was able to demolish all 60 of the two-inch thick cement slabs in 60 seconds.
But the fact is, he was able to chop those blocks in less than 40 seconds.
He also entertained the crowd when he chopped a watermelon in half while it was resting the stomach of his adopted grandson, RJ.
For more than 20 years, Cameron has resided in Palos Hills, and has smashed other types of bricks as well, holding nearly 40 years of experience in martial arts, a 7th degree in taekwondo and a 4th degree in hapkido.
However, he had never attempted to demolish 60 cement slabs at one time.
“Age did play a factor in this and it was my first time attempting something so extensive,” Cameron said. “I wanted to push myself while entering a new age category. Just because you turn 60 doesn’t mean you should ever stop pursuing new goals. I never want to see myself become lazy. I want to keep pushing towards bigger achievements.”
The event was held at St. Mark during the church’s Family Fun Days. Cameron and his wife, Debborah, are active members of St. Mark and participate in local community events taking place at the parish.
“My wife and I actually met at St. Mark,” he said, “Since then, I have also been participating in their Family Fun Days event every year. However, this is the first time I have ever attempted this.”
Cameron’s grandchild, Lyric, age 7, and adopted grandchild, RJ, 15, assisted him during his live performance. Aside from smashing the cement slabs, Cameron also cut a whole watermelon in half off of RJ’s stomach while he laid flat, keeping the audience in awe and amazement during his performance.
“My grandchildren and I have a lot of fun working together during shows,” he said, “I like to have them be active participants.”
Receiving his 7th degree black belt is something Cameron said was a highlight of his career since reaching such an accomplishment requires patience.
“The title of Grandmaster is the highest title you can receive in martial arts and I was able to reach this goal just a couple of years ago,” he said.
Cameron is one of the world’s experts on dim mak, also known as the Chinese death touch or poison hand. Cameron, who works in industrial security and martial arts instruction, has been featured on numerous television programs, including “Ripley’s Believe it Or Not” where he was given the name of the “Human Stun Gun.” He also appeared on TLC and Steve Harvey’s “Big Time.”
Cameron’s most controversial demonstrations involve knocking down a subject without physical contact by, in his description, projecting energy known as chi, ki or prana, which is described as a bio-energy that overwhelms the target. He also specializes in demonstrations in which his hands are placed lightly on the subject’s body, usually the subject’s head, until the subject gradually loses footing, and seemingly consciousness, due to the energy Cameron says he is transmits to the person.
Some have expressed doubts about his “stun-gun’ abilities and one internet skeptic labelled his blog entry using a couple of vulgarities.
Believe his ability to stun someone without touching them or not, one has to admit that Cameron has become a tough guy, but it wasn’t always the case.
During a Fox News Chicago story that appeared approximately eight years ago, he said he grew up on Chicago’s South Side and said he had been attacked numerous times. He added he was knifed and once had a gun jammed up his nose. Luckily for Cameron, the gun jammed and he is still alive to talk about it.
But that moment changed his life.
“It was time I either learned something to protect myself or I was going to die,” he told Fox News.
Cameron is also a martial arts teacher who has taught for decades at numerous area park districts. He currently teaches group sessions of taekwondo at the Palos Park Recreation Department, as well as private lessons.
“We should always be constantly pushing towards bigger goals,” Cameron said. “Once you have achieved something, you should move on to the next bigger and better goal. Age is not a reason to hold you back.”

Worth’s top cop retires before 50th birthday

  • Written by Kelly White

Knolmayer seeks out more family time after 28 years on Worth force

With tearful eyes, some Village of Worth officials sadlypage-1-2-col-Knolmayer-and-wife-KarenMartin Knolmayer, posing with his wife Karen at Tuesday night’s village board meeting, is retiring at Worth Police Chief Oct. 3. Photo by Kelly White. celebrated the retirement of whom they consider a great man. 

Police Chief Martin Knolmayer announced his retirement at Tuesday’s board meeting, leaving the village after over 28 years of service and right before his 50th birthday. The retirement takes place Oct. 3. That’s when a little more family time is scheduled to kick in.
“My family has personally seen a few milestones this past year,” Knolmayer said, “My wife, Karen, and I celebrate our 26th wedding anniversary this month. My son, Zach, graduated with honors from DePaul University. My daughter, Ashley, turned 21 and is still doing well in college. Most importantly, I will be turning 50 years old next month.”
The village recently received a letter from the chief informing us that his decision was to retire where Knolmayer wrote: “I would like to thank my wife, Karen, for many years of unconditional support and understanding. I cannot recall a time when he received a call to return for work, a 2 a.m. phone call or miss dinner or family parties that Karen never said anything more than, ‘Okay. Just let me know when you will be home.’ ’’
Some village officials responded with tears to the news and lauded Knolmayer’s love and commitment, not only to the village, but to his family.
“We want to thank you for 28 years of outstanding service to the Village of Worth,” Mayor Mary Werner said, “Now you will be able to celebrate holidays and birthdays at home with your family, and spend more time with Karen, Zach and Ashley. You can do all of the things that you always wanted to do and never had the time to do.”
Trustee Pete Katz agreed, “I also want to thank his family for their dedication and the things that they missed out on with him because of his job. I know it has been tough, but I want to thank you as well.”
Knolmayer was hired onto the Worth Police Department in 1986 and assigned the position of patrol officer where he served for 10 years. He was then assigned an open investigation spot where he continued to work for the next 14 years.
While at that post, he also worked with the South Suburban Major Crimes Unit. From there, he was assigned to the South Suburban Major Crimes Task Force and worked with them for 11 years to investigate homicides and kidnappings. While working with that organization, he served as an investigator, squad leader, team leader and case manager.
“It was truly an honor for me to work with so many outstanding investigators,” Knolmayer said on behalf of working with the talk force.
Knolmayer became a sergeant of the Worth Police Department in 2000 and earned the promotion to lieutenant in 2006. He served as a proactive chief in 2010 and was appointed to the Chief of Police in 2011.
“I want to personally thank the chief,” Katz added, “After knowing him very well for seven to eight years he has become a friend of mine and I sincerely think of him as my friend. I wish him nothing but the best on his next chapter in life; because, I know whatever he chooses to do, he will do it well, as he has always done for the Village of Worth.”
“It has been an honor for me to serve the residents of Worth and it has been a privilege to work with the men and women in the Worth Police Department,” Knolmayer said, “I had the opportunity to make many friendships in my career. I will always value the support and the loyalty.”