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Posted September 23, 2009

Commemorating Willye B. White

It was a gorgeous autumn morning on September 26. In Rogers Park, just east of the Howard “L” stop, Caribbean-style drum music filled the street. Dozens of community activists, neighborhood citizens, and civic leaders were gathering at a new Chicago Park District field house to dedicate the facility to a remarkable woman: Willye B. White, five-time Olympian and Chicago philanthropist.

Jell Creative worked for over a year with historian Julia S. Bachrach, Janis Taylor (a close friend of White’s), the Parkways Foundation, and the Chicago Park District to capture Willye’s life and achievements in a permanent lobby exhibit. The fabrication and installation, expertly managed by Colorphonic and The Talent Connection, was completed just in time for the dedication.

The field house was packed with TV news crews and Willye’s admirers, and the line at the podium was long: Maggie Daley, CPD Superintendent Tim Mitchell, Alderman Joe Moore, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Secretary of State Jesse White, CPD president Gery Chico, and former Olympians Diane Simpson-Bundy and Bob Pickens (also a CPD Commissioner) were among the many who competed for a few minutes at the mike to talk about Willye’s legacy. A small slide show of the event and the exhibit is offered here, but you might also want to browse the photos at 24/7 North of Howard Watchers.