Remembering two community giants

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Remembering two community giants
By Ray Hanania — We always remember the politicians and activists when they are at their height of activism and when they are in the news.

But politics is like a baseball game. It should be fought hard, but with some respect and friendship, too, between the teams.

Recently a friend of mine, former Oak Lawn trustee Steve Rosenbaum, emailed me to point out an unusual and sad coincidence. Rosenbaum is a 49 year resident of Oak Lawn and was actively involved in Oak Lawn and Worth Township politics for many decades.

The obituary pages, where we are starting to see far too many of our friends lately, noted the passing of two well known regional political titans. Robert Krolak and Grace Ozinga.

Rosenbaum noted that irony of their passing. Krolak ran in 1976 against Grace Ozinga’s husband, State Senator Frank Ozinga. Krolak had also previously run for Oak Lawn trustee and possibly many of our generation may recall his enthusiastic campaigns. Krolak ran, as Rosenbaum noted, during the storming political battle for mayor between Fred Dumke and Tom Powell.

“Grace Ozinga was a very nice, classy lady, whom I did get to know. She shunned the spotlight and always seemed to have the right perspective on what family means,” Rosenbaum noted.

“Both Mrs. Grace Ozinga and Mr. Bob Krolak were from an era when volunteerism and public service went hand-in-hand. Both cared deeply about the Southwest Suburbs. Bob Krolak played a major role in developing hockey programs and facilities in Oak Lawn and beyond. He also offered his many talents in other civic capacities during the period of time Oak Lawn was experiencing considerable growth.”

Rosenbaum added about Mrs. Ozinga, “From Evergreen Park, she was a gracious and elegant person, who we all knew gave great support and counsel to her husband, the late State Senator Frank Ozinga. She always had a kind word to say and genuinely cared for the well-being of others. Her commitment to family was most admirable.”

I agree with Rosenbaum’s conclusion that both Oak Lawn and Evergreen Park and the region “are much better communities because of what both these fine people contributed.”

Here are the obituaries of these two individuals who dedicated themselves and their family life to public service:

Robert “Bob” Krolak, 77. Devoted father of Melissa Krolak and Sandra (James) Monkemeyer. Proud grandfather of Chase and Bradley. The funeral service was held at Blake-Lamb Funeral Home, 4727 W. 103rd St., Oak Lawn.

Grace Ozinga, nee Stob, age 95, beloved wife of the late Senator Frank M. Ozinga (1987). Loving mother of Wilma “Pixie” (Richard) Molenhouse, Martin F. (Sally) Ozinga, Ronald (Sharon) Ozinga, Janice (William) Hoffman and Marcia (Paul) Hite. Cherished grandmother of 13, one of whom preceded her in death. Dearest great-grandmother of 24. Preceded in death by 12 brothers and sisters. Dear aunt and great-aunt of many nieces and nephews. The funeral was Tuesday at Colonial Chapel 15525 S. 73rd Ave. in Orland Park. Interment Evergreen Cemetery. Memorials to Advocate Hope Children’s Hospital, Oak Lawn, IL or Southwest Chicago Christian Schools preferred.

Too often, great people who made a difference pass quietly into the night. But we should take a moment to remember them and their contributions to the community. If you want to share your own memories, go to www.Legacy.com and search using their names.

Thanks to Steve Rosenbaum for putting a spotlight on these two deserving individuals.

(Listen to Ray Hanania’s radio show on WSBC AM 1240 and WCFJ AM 1470 in the Southland every Sunday at 8 to 10 am. www.RadioChicagoland.com)

This post has already been read 106 times!

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and Columnist who began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He covered Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992 (Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley) and has expanded to writing for newspapers around the world focussed on Middle East and American politics.

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