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Harry ‘Bus’ Yourell Was a Fighter to End
By RAY HANANIA — The first time I met Harry “Bus” Yourell was in 1978 while writing for the Southtown. At the time, he was the Worth Township Democratic Committeeman. I had written something nice about his Republican rival, Herbert V. Huskey, and “Bus” was giving me a piece of his mind.
I don’t remember what it was, but Bus and I had a rocky relationship that never bothered him and that he never shied away from. We were constantly at odds, the way it was supposed to be back then between reporters and politicians.
I don’t know how many times Bus gave me “what for” over the telephone after I published one of my twice weekly columns reporting on Huskey, the Republicans or local politics.
He always had an opinion.
Yourell was always respectful even though we often would lock horns on local politics. He was a strong personality, a politician unafraid to do what he felt was right. He didn’t hide things. If he bought a car to tow his boat down to Florida using his campaign fund, he was never shy about defending his actions.
Not everyone is like that. Some elected officials do things and then are afraid to defend their actions. My feeling has always been if the law allows you to do it, and you do it, then defend it. Why get angry when a story runs detailing how you hired your son or daughter to a government job?
Yourell died last week after a long career in public service. He was successful at government service and politics.
He began his career in 1959, right about the time I was in preschool. He ran a very popular restaurant, Bus’ Drive-in on 95th Street. As a kid, he got the nickname “Bus” because his mother would dress him up like Buster Brown.
He entered government service in 1966 filling a vacancy in the Illinois Legislature. It’s there that he would bump up against Huskey, who was often called “Mr. Republican of the Southwest Suburbs” serving five terms in the Illinois House. Although the region was Democratic, Huskey served during the period when the House was required to have one member in a Senate District from the minority party.
In 1984, Yourell was elected the Cook County Recorder of Deeds. In 1988, he was elected to the Water Reclamation District, where he served 18 years. I am no big fan of the Water Reclamation District, which has very little public accountability. That strained our relationship even more, not that Yourell cared. He was too tough to care about what an upstart reporter thought of him in his columns.
Bus retired from politics in 2006, the same year that Huskey, his rival, died.
Even in his 80s, Yourell traveled the world, bungee jumping at 85 in New Zealand.
Born in Hammond, Ind., Harry “Bus” Yourell became a legend in Southwest Suburban politics, one of only a handful of government leaders who was fearless in pursuing his political agenda, criticism or not. In contrast, many Southwest Suburban politicians serve like meek minions who do what they are told to do.
Yourell did the “telling,” and he did what he believed was right. He enjoyed the support of a large majority of the voters throughout his life.
Harry “Bus” Yourell lived his life his way, and for that, he deserves a lot of our respect, including mine.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist and media consultant. He can be reached at www.hanania.com.)
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Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.
Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com. He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites TheArabDailyNews.com and NewsAmericaNetwork.com (Illinois News Network at IllinoisNewsNetwork.com).
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.
Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.
His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania
Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com