The humility of those honored was a theme of the Homewood Hall of Fame induction ceremony Oct. 14.
This year’s eight honorees are Bill Frank, Jim Gannon, Rev. David Speerbrecker, the Tienstra family, and posthumous honorees Dr. Francis Wright, former village trustee, long-time dentist in town and Prairie State College supporter; William Buggert, the village’s first fire chief; volunteer and organizer Peggy Eisenstein; and businesswoman Sheryl Hamann.
Dr. Wright died three weeks before he was to be inducted. His wife, Marge, and daughter, Dr. Karen O’Donnell, were at the ceremony to represent him.
He did live long enough to learn that he had been selected for the honor. O’Donnell said she shared the nominating materials describing his service to the community with her father before he died.
“He kind of teared up at the end and said, ‘I sure would like to meet this guy,'” she said. “To dad, he was just doing what you ought to do.”
Elaine Egdorf, chairwoman of the Homewood Heritage Commission, that sponsors the Hall of Fame and selects inductees, said she personally delivered the news to several recipients and each of them expressed shock at being chosen.
“They were astounded that they were named. Jim was one. He’s very humble,” she said from the podium as she introduced Gannon. “He’s always helping someone, always extending a hand and a smile. He didn’t think he deserved recognition. We proudly welcome Jim Gannon into the Homewood Hall of Fame with our gratitude.”
Gannon was honored for his 35 years of service to the Homewood Police Department. He was named Officer of the Year in 1982 and was serving as deputy chief when he retired in 2009.
He and his wife, Jayme, lost their son, Brian, to brain cancer in 2013, and the Gannons have been active volunteers at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago and the Ronald McDonald House there.
Egdorf read a long list of Frank’s contributions to the community. He was recognized for taking on leadership positions on service and business organizations both locally and regionally; two decades as chairman of the Homewood Days festival planning committee; and founding a local youth football program.
He was nominated by his daughter, Cherie Sons.
In accepting the award, Frank said, “James Doolittle said there’s nothing stronger than a volunteer’s heart. There’s nothing stronger than the people around him. You know what makes me the most proud of this award? My kids noticed all those years when I was volunteering and trying to build a football team so my son could play in Homewood. I hope one day they, too, can be honored for their big hearts.”
David Speerbrecker, who has been pastor of Salem Lutheran Church for 26 years, is Homewood’s longest-serving clergyman, Egdorf said. His service reaches beyond his congregation. She noted that he has served as chaplain for the Homewood Police Department and is currently chairman of the village Ethics Committee.
She read a long list of area charity organizations that Speerbrecker contributes to in various ways.
“I personally have witnessed him holding regular services at Waterford Estates, a senior living home, to give the residents comfort and strength,” she said.
The Tienstra family was honored for service to the village spanning five generations and more than a century. The family first arrived in Homewood in 1908, and brothers Ralph and Joseph built three homes that still stand. Joseph’s son, Julian, started a plumbing business in 1955.
Julian’s grandson, Gerald, and his great-grandson, Glenn, have continued the family’s tradition of service. Both have served as law enforcement officers. Gerald is a plumbing inspector for the village, and Glenn served two terms as a village trustee.
Note: More to come.