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Park may be named for John H. Stroger

Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Special to
by Wendell Hutson

Soon some South Siders might be spending a lot of leisure time in the new John H. Stroger Jr. Park–the 41st to be named after a Black person who impacted the city.

A community-driven initiative may prompt the Chicago Park District to consider renaming Avalon Park,

1275 E. 83rd St.
, in honor of of the late Cook County Board president, said Jessica Maxey-Faulkner, spokeswoman for the Chicago Park District. Before a park can be named after someone, Faulkner said, the individual must be deceased at least one year.

Then, the proposed names must be presented at a Board of Commissioners meeting for review. Upon approval from the Board of Commissioners, the Chicago Park District would then post a 45-day notice to solicit public input. Even though Stroger, who died in January, has not been deceased a year, Faulkner said the superintendent has the discretion to waive the time requirement.

In a written statement, Chicago Park District Superintendent and CEO Timothy J. Mitchell, said, “The Chicago Park District honors African Americans who have made important contributions to their communities and to the city at large.” Though the next board meeting is May 14 at 4 p.m., at the Park District’s headquarters,

541 N. Fairbanks Court
, Faulkner said that the superintendent might not present the Stroger proposal until the summer.

Shortly after suffering a stroke in March 2006, Stroger won the Democratic primary for what would have been his fourth term as county board president. He had also battled diabetes, prostate cancer and heart disease. Stroger was first elected board president in 1994.

His son, Todd Stroger, took his place on the ballot for the 2006 general election and was elected county board president. “As life-long residents of Avalon Park, a plan to rename the park after my late father would be a great honor to me and my family,” said Todd Stroger.

“This proposal is a fitting gesture to my father’s legacy and years of public service, and a special way to remember his passionate commitment to helping families and individuals in need.” Stroger was born May 19, 1929, in Helena, Ark. and graduated from Xavier University in New Orleans with a degree in business administration.

He later taught school and coached basketball, before moving to Chicago in 1953, where he became an assistant auditor with the Municipal Court of Chicago. Later, Stroger served as personnel director for Cook County Jail and financial director for the state.

He earned a law degree from DePaul University in 1965 and was elected committeeman of the South Side’s 8th Ward in 1968. In 1970, Stroger was elected to the Cook County Board as a commissioner.

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