Thursday, September 28, 2017

Garfield Ridge Dad Continues Battle Back from West Nile Encephalitis

Insurance runs out; fundraiser planned

By Joan Hadac

Family, friends and neighbors of Garfield Ridge resident Jeff
Walls, a union carpenter battling his way back from a severe, paralyzing case of West Nile encephalitis, are inviting the community to a fundraiser next month.

The “Jeff’s Road to Recovery” benefit is set for 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 8 at 115 Bourbon Street, 3359 W. 115th St., Merrionette Park.

Tickets are $30 for adults and includes a four-hour open bar (beer and wine) and food buffet. Tickets are $20 for those under age 21 (as young as age 6).

The event will feature live music, raffles, gift baskets and more, including sports memorabilia like a Chicago Blackhawks jersey autographed by Denis Savard. Walls’ wife, daughters and son are expected to be on hand, leading the event.

To learn more about purchasing tickets, visit the Jeff’s Road to Recovery page on Facebook.

Back in March, Walls had been flat on his back for seven months, felled by a mosquito bite that gave him West Nile encephalitis and left him completely paralyzed in a hospital bed set up in his Garfield Ridge home.

In August of 2016, he came home from work more tired than
usual and chalked it up to the summer heat. The next day, he went to work but came home early. In the days after that, his energy level continued to fall. He started experiencing double vision, was feverish and sweating and seemed to take a long time to formulate answers to questions.

Trips to the emergency room, as well as multiple blood tests, did not yield a diagnosis of West Nile Virus infection, his daughter, Ariana, said.

Doctors put him into a coma for his own protection. He lay there for three months, coming out “super slow” in the fall, his daughter recalled, saying that her dad’s case is one of the worst cases of West Nile-related disease ever documented in Illinois.

Encephalitis is a dangerous inflammation of the brain It is a rare complication of West Nile Virus infection.

Jeff today

More than a year after infection, Walls is still profoundly disabled but has regained some mobility, his daughter said. He can move his right arm. He talks more. He’s still on a ventilator, but he can communicate more. Therapy is helping him speak better.

However, insurance has run out for in-home nursing care, which he needs 36 hours of every week.

Those unable to make the October fundraiser are encouraged to visit to make a monetary donation electronically.


Dulce V, family-owned and operated!
Dulce V, locally-owned and operated!

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Trump said what U.N. needed to hear

Opinion by John T. "Red" Ryan

WHETHER OR NOT one is a supporter or in opposition to President Donald J. Trump, one has to like his recent sojourn to the United Nations.

The venerable world organization has been increasingly moving into waters that are increasingly unproductive for world peace; being unduly supportive of states that promote persecution of religious minorities and mark for physical abuse (even death) those who are homosexual. trans-gender or in anyway don't fit into their standards.  

THE UNITED NATIONS has gone so far as to place the very countries who are the biggest offenders in these human rights areas in charge of the very committees that are supposed to seek solutions.

For example, in recent years, the U.N. General Assembly has chosen the governments of such countries as Libya and Iraq to had up important committees as the U.N.'s Commission on Human Rights; whereas these are among the very worst offenders. The result is that instead of using the strength of U,N. sanctions in those areas, we find the undue criticism directed toward the United States, Israel, Great Britain, France and the other Western powers. 

THE SITUATION HAS degenerated to just that degree. But things were far different when the organization was founded. That would be in the waning days of World War II. It was then that the sentiment got really strong for such an international cooperative. The name "United Nations" was taken from the term that was then being used when referring to the Allied Powers who were waging the war against Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Imperial Japan and their satellite countries. These enemy nations were referred to as the Axis Powers, meaning all that revolved around the Berlin/Rome/Tokyo axis. 

THE IDEA OF having such an international member organization dedicated to maintaining world peace and encouraging cooperation in the areas of industry, commerce (business/trade), science and medicine was not a new one and such proposals had been around since the time of our American Revolution. It was first put into reality following the Armistice in World War I of November 11, 1918, at 11:00 AM (the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, to be exact.) The formation of the League of Nations was an integral component of the Treaty of Versailles (January 10, 1920), which was largely the creation of United States President, Woodrow Wilson. The League had some early successes; but failed to prevent the Second World Conflict. This was at least in part due to the fact that the U.S. never ratified the Versailles agreement; hence never became a member.

BUT NOW LET us get back to this past week and how "the Donald" fared at the U.N.  It is our feeling that he was viewed much in the same manner as was President Ronald Reagan when he dealt with foreign powers; be they friend or foe. Whether or not it was true and deserved or not, Mr. Reagan was widely thought of as being a "cowboy" or a "loose cannon" and far from his predecessor, President Jimmy Carter. Inasmuch as perception can be very powerful, this  can work very well on our behalf today, just as it did in the 1980s.

MR. TRUMP HAS been in the public view for years now and is used to meeting people who are at the top of their fields; be it business and industry, science and religion, as well as dignitaries in government from all corners of the world. When you add this to the ideas and principals as advocated in the President's best seller, THE ART OF THE DEAL, you come up with a chief executive who is both a shrewd dealer at he bargaining table as well as having the potential of being a great statesman. For just what is a "deal" but the product of negotiation?

AS FAR AS his dressing down the U.N..we feel that it's high time that someone did just that! For if the present anti-American, pro-brutal dictatorship policies continue, we'll have real trouble here at our own doorstep. As it is now operating, if we had our druthers, we'd give all these parasite nations a year to close out business and make their move anywhere; but not before they all clear up the infinitesimal number of traffic fines they've accumulated since 1945 and evaded paying under the policy of diplomatic immunity. We'd then turn the U.N. building into a combination hotel and casino complex. It would at least then be serving some useful purpose.

AS FOR THE aforementioned outstanding parking ticket fine$, the total would doubtless pay off our national debt!

NOTE: CONGRATS to you Cub fans on your team's clinching the NL Central Division!  And Cub fans remember, the League of Nations mentioned in the above column is not the same as your National League!

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John T. “Red” Ryan is a retired Chicago police officer and Garfield Ridge resident. 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Mud, blood and thud: new book relives gritty glory of St. Rita football champs

‘3 Yards and a Cloud of Dust’ now available

By Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post

            In an era when multi-millionaire athletes sit out games for reasons like “unspecified soreness” and “stiff neck,” Chicago-area sports personality Tim Maher has written a true tale about some of the most rugged young men anywhere: the City champion 1970 St. Rita Mustangs football team.
            Maher, a co-captain of that legendary squad, has
penned and self-published “3 Yards and a Cloud of Dust,” a 200-plus page book newly available in paperback for $14.95 at
“I’ve been thinking about writing this book for years, and I finally did it. Hey, I’m a guy who can’t spell ‘cat’ and yet now I’m a published author,” Maher joked during a recent book signing at Bookie’s New and Used Books, 10324 S. Western. “Seriously, though, this book is a perfect Christmas gift for the thousands of men who—as teenagers—played football in the Chicago Catholic League, as well as thousands more who watched from the stands.”
            While some fans of Chicago Catholic League football history know of the storied squad—which amazingly went from 0-9 in 1968 to 9-2-1 in 1970—few, other than the players themselves, recall the details.
            But Maher, along with a handful of his teammates who are all now 64-year-olds scattered across the Southwest Side, the southwest suburbs and beyond, brings it all back: from the brutal summer practice sessions in Michigan to three November victories at Soldier Field over tough CCL opponents (Fenwick, Loyola and Leo) to a December Prep Bowl triumph over Lane Tech before a Soldier Field crowd of 65,745.
            St. Rita alumni—and other Catholic high school graduates--will smile as they read descriptions of the mud, blood and thuds in the brick-walled tight space at St. Rita’s home field near 64th and Claremont—typically a path to glory for Mustang teams, usually a dead-end to defeat for opposing squads.
            The book brings back recollections of grit, of trials by fire, of coaches being tough on players as they turned boys into men—teaching them how to overcome adversity, how to be hard but fair, and more.
“We didn’t have what [high school] football players have today. After a double-session practice in 100-degree heat, we’d get two salt tablets. Not like today--not bathed in water, not chugging down Gatorade. We had papaya juice—and it was great because it had grass, blood, snots, everything in it. You drank it, it had ice in it,” Maher chuckled.
And so it goes in the book, less of a warm and fuzzy stroll down memory lane and more of a gritty grind down an alley.
In chronological fashion, Maher and others relive each game of the 1970 season. Included are hand-written game notes and black-and-white photos that offer a glimpse into a time when football was often more fight than finesse, when the sport was part bare-knuckled brawl.
As he has been for years—as a sports promoter, radio
personality and more--Maher is an unabashed fan of Chicago Catholic League football. In “3 Yards” he tips his cap to the states of Texas, Ohio, California and Florida—long known for their powerhouse prep football teams. But he adds that if any schools from those states want to play “a real game of football,” they should contact the CCL.
“We will play you at your stadium, in your parking lot, in an alley, in a cornfield, at a beach,” Maher wrote. “Makes no difference to us. We will show up.”
Maher is a South Side native who grew up at 5417 S. Racine, across the street from Sherman Park, where as a boy he wore the uniform of the Visitation Ramblers—butting heads with such Southwest Side grid powers as Queen of the Universe and St. Mary Star of the Sea
Maher dedicated the book to his mother, Mary Jean, and his father, John, a 1944 St. Rita graduate and football player who joined the Marines and earned a Purple Heart fighting on Okinawa.
            One of the well-wishers at the book signing was Bob Wojtalewicz, co-captain of the 1970 St. Rita championship team.
“We ain’t seen each other in 35 years, but I love him to this day,” Maher said. “That’s one great thing about the Catholic League—you hate each other when you’re there on the field; but after that you discover that you’ve forged a bond, a kind of brotherhood, in a way, that lasts for years. You shake hands with a man from the Catholic League, you know you’ve shaken the hand of a man of honor—a man whose word is his bond.”
Tim Maher (right) and Bob Wojtalewicz.

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More Reasons Why Archer Heights Is One of Chicago's Most Beautiful Places

Our friends at the Archer Heights Civic Association
presented their biannual House Beautiful Awards at their
September meeting.

A handful of homeowners--and two business owners--were saluted for doing their part to keep Archer Heights what it has been for decades---one of Chicago's best and most beautiful neighborhoods.

Click on the image below and see the winners for yourself.

Our congratulations to those who won awards this year, and our thanks to the good people of the Archer Heights Civic Association, one of Chicago's most active and effective neighborhood advocacy organizations. The AHCA does an excellent job of speaking truth to power and rattling the right cages to get things done, but they also understand the importance of celebrating all that is good about the neighborhood, and they do that with pride.

If you live in Archer Heights or own a business there, the AHCA is the group to join!

To learn more about the AHCA, call 773-843-2232 or attend the next meeting. AHCA meetings are always the second Wednesday of the month, with the exception of July and August, at UNO Veterans Memorial Campus, 47th and Kildare, and always start at 7:30 p.m. All Archer Heights residents are encouraged to attend.


Dulce V, family-owned and operated!
Dulce V, locally-owned and operated!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A Good Cop, Remembered Always

Police, neighbors unite to salute Officer Perez, support family

By Joan Hadac
Editor and Publisher
Southwest Chicago Post

Fifteen years after her dad died, Katarina Perez still tears up when she thinks about happy memories that would never take place.

Flanked by family, friends and a phalanx of supportive police officers, Perez was a key speaker Monday evening at an outdoor roll call of the Chicago Police Department. The event, which honored the late Officer Benjamin Perez, was held on the street at 53rd and Nashville, near the Perez family home.

Officer Perez was a young dad 15 years ago. He had been on the police force for four years.

Assigned to the Ogden (10th) District, he was killed in the line of duty on Sept. 18, 2002. He and his partner, Officer Ron Zuniga, received information about a narcotics transaction occurring near the Burlington Northern-Sante Fe railroad tracks, just north of Cermak and Spaulding.

The officers climbed over an embankment and were conducting surveillance from a railroad trestle. As they watched for illegal activity, a Metra commuter train traveling at a high rate of speed was headed in their direction. 

Although both officers were able to get off the tracks, Officer Perez was pulled underneath the wheels by the forceful winds the train created.

He left behind his wife, Michele; as well as Katarina, a 9-
Officer Benjamin Perez
year-old schoolgirl at St. Daniel the Prophet; toddler son, Benjamin; and infant daughter, Rebecca. All of them, as well as members of the larger family, were on hand Monday.

“Every year, September rolls around—and with it come sorrow and pain…but my love and memory of my dad, Benjamin Perez, has never weakened,” Katarina Perez told the assembly of police, military veterans and others. “And neither has yours, the people standing here with me.”

She added that she and her family are amazed by the unflagging support they receive. “You might not think it makes a difference, but it makes a world of difference. It fills us with pride to know that he is still thought about and will never be forgotten.”

Known as a modest, hard-working, effective policeman, Perez earned 16 CPD commendations in his four years on duty—yet no one in his family, not even his wife, knew of them until after his death. His family found them stashed in a drawer as they went through his personal effects.

Her voice faltering as she reflected on what was not to be, she added, “I will say it time and time again…but I wish Ben and Becky could have had more memories than just the few pictures we have of my dad. I suppose that makes them more valuable.”

Serving as master of ceremonies at the roll call was retired CPD Supt. Phil Cline, a former Garfield Ridge resident and current Chicago Police Memorial Foundation executive director.

“Ben died doing a job he loved, serving a country he loved even more,” Cline said. “He was the best of his generation. Ben was the ‘real police’…a small part of every one of us died when we lost Ben. Not just members of the police department, but every Chicagoan. When you look at Ben’s life, you discover a man who devoted himself completely to others and to his family. We did not just lose an exceptional police officer, we lost a remarkable person.”

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Update on Arturo Correa

Update: At about 1:45 a.m., Arturo's mother posted that he has been found. No other details to share at this point. Thank you to everyone who kept eyes and ears open, who shared information about Arturo with family, friends and neighbors, and who offered prayers.

At 9:23 p.m. Thursday, September 7, CPD issued a "missing
Arturo Correa
person" alert relating to 13-year-old Arturo Correa, who was last seen on the 4800 block of South Leamington at 7:45 a.m. Thursday, September 7.

Arturo is 5-foot-6 and 125 pounds, with brown eyes and brown hair.

If you see him, please call 911 immediately. If you have other useful information to share, please call CPD Area Central detectives at (312) 747-8380 and refer to case JA 422654.

As the Southwest Chicago Post always does when a child of our community is missing, we urge everyone to keep eyes and ears open--and work together to see to it that Arturo is found and returned safely to his family.

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Dulce V, family-owned and operated!
Dulce V, locally-owned and operated!