No one will ever forget 2020.

The COVID-19 coronavirus brought about unprecedented times, with cities worldwide shutting down to minimize its spread.

Life changed in March, and people were forced to adapt. Still, many traditions continued, but in different ways.

Social unrest was common in the wake of police-involved shootings, and America experienced a tumultuous election season.

Here are the top stories from 2020.

Local leadership

Nationally, 2020 will be remembered as the year Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump in the race for president.

Locally, two major changes occurred after the November general election, but much remained the same.

Marie Newman, of La Grange, was elected U.S. representative for the Third Congressional District of Illinois. She narrowly defeated longtime incumbent Dan Lipinski in the Democratic primary in March after a close loss two years earlier. In the general election, she beat Republican candidate Mike Fricilone, of Homer Glen, with about 54 percent of the vote.

In other races, U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-1st) and state Rep. Fran Hurley (D-35th) both retained their seats, defeating Philanise White and Herb Hebein, respectively.

Tammy Wendt, a Democrat, defeated incumbent Dan Patlak, a Republican, in the race for commissioner of the First District of the Cook County Board of Review. Patlak held a slim lead on Election Day, but Wendt prevailed as more votes were later tallied.

Sean Joyce, of Mt. Greenwood, was named commander of the 22nd District of the Chicago Police Department (CPD) in February. He had been the district’s executive officer. He succeeded Richard Wiser, who held the post for about a year and was named commander of Area 4 detectives.

Mary Jo Viero, of Beverly, was named executive director of the Beverly Area Planning Association (BAPA) in January. She had served in various positions with the civic association for several years. She replaced Susan Flood, who led BAPA for two years.

Carly Bishop was named artistic director of the Beverly Arts Center in June. She had worked at the center as a teaching artist, director of summer arts camps and as director of outreach. She succeeded Shellee Frazee, who had held multiple leadership positions since 2013.

Local Economy

Local businesses were restricted in the services they could offer when the pandemic began, and they improvised to stay open. With indoor dining banned for several weeks at a time, many bars and restaurants opened temporary outdoor patios in their parking lots and initiated delivery services.

Numerous special retail promotions were organized by local leaders to support small businesses, including 19th Ward Ald. Matt O’Shea organizing a GoFundMe campaign in which local restaurants provided meals for those on the front line against the virus; the Small Business Mega Lottery; the 19th Ward Small Business Super Raffle; the “Bucks Stay Here” online credit card campaign, run by several business associations; and the “12 Weeks of Christmas” campaign led by BAPA.

Before the pandemic struck, local businesses united to host “9Teen Strong,” a Monopoly-like game featuring cash prizes.

Even during the uncertainty of the public health crisis, several new businesses opened locally, including four near 99th Street and Walden Parkway in Beverly: City Grange gardening center, Beverly Dry Goods, Oak and Bloom, and Two Mile Coffee Bar.

Restoration of the Givins Castle, 10244 S. Longwood Dr., took place from June into the fall. The historic building is over 130 years old, and its turrets were repaired along with other upgrades. About $1 million was raised through the Givins Beverly Castle Restoration Campaign.

Two upgraded or rebuilt banks opened in Mt. Greenwood. Marquette Bank upgraded a former bank site at 3435 W. 111th St., and in October, CIBC Bank, 3040 W. 111th St, opened its new location, which was built next to the former building that was later razed.

Nicky’s Grill and Yogurt continued to work on its new location at 105th Street and Western Avenue, and it plans to open on Jan. 2. The restaurant, owned by Paul Kostopanagiotou, operated at the corner of 103rd and Western for over 20 years.

Beverly Shear Manufacturing Corp, 3004 W. 111th St., was sold to Mittler Bros, a Missouri company, in July, as the Nebel Family, which had run the business since 1931, bid farewell. The building is for sale, and the “Save the Beverly Shear” campaign is underway to purchase the building and convert it into a Mt. Greenwood cultural center.

Divvy, the city of Chicago’s bike-sharing service, came to the neighborhood in the fall, part of a rollout on the Far South Side that included 66 docking stations and 3,500 bikes.


Schools statewide closed their buildings in mid-March, turning to virtual learning for the rest of the 2019-20 school year. The Archdiocese of Chicago re-opened buildings in the fall for the 2020-21 year, while Chicago Public Schools (CPS) continued e-learning after originally proposing a hybrid plan. CPS plans to have students begin in-person learning in January, a move the Chicago Teachers Union opposes. On Oct. 28, protests around the city were held demanding that CPS schools re-open, including at Mt. Greenwood Elementary.

St. Walter and Queen of Martyrs elementary schools welcomed new principals for the 2020-21 school year. Veronica Cash Skelton took over at St. Walter, and M. Jacob “Doc” Mathius, a longtime educator at Br. Rice High School, took the helm at Queen of Martyrs.

Several high schools welcomed new leaders. At Marist, Larry Tucker moved from principal to president, and Kathryn Baal became the first female principal of the school. At St. Rita, Jim Quaid was named president, and Sante Iacovelli was named principal. At De La Salle, Thomas Schergen was named principal, and at St. Laurence, Kristy Kane will become principal in July 2021; she is spending this school year working with Principal James Muting, who will retire at the end of the school year.

The Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences unveiled its therapeutic riding arena on Feb. 25, showcasing an amenity available for students with special needs and first responders coping with mental health issues. The school was also able to collaborate with O’Shea in November to host its annual Thanksgiving dinner for seniors—although this year, instead of guests gathering in the school gym, students delivered meals to over 350 local residents.

Morgan Park High School (MPHS) was gifted a mini bus by the MPHS Alumni Association on Jan. 15, with members surprising Principal Femi Skanes. The bus is used by sports teams and clubs.

O’Shea announced on Aug. 10 that Kellogg Elementary School will receive several upgrades over the next two years, including an elevator and new playground. School leaders expressed happiness about the project, which will cost about $3 million, but many in the school community were vocal in saying they want an addition to be built and that the upgrades aren’t practical. O’Shea said he will listen to their concerns.

Community pride

O’Shea’s sixth annual Get Behind the Vest Pancake Breakfast was held on Feb. 23 at St. John Fisher Elementary School, supporting the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation (CPMF) campaign to purchase new protective vests for officers. Hundreds of people attended, raising thousands of dollars.

The South Side Irish St. Patrick’s Day Parade, scheduled for March 15, was canceled, but not before the grand marshal, local Catholic elementary school teachers, and special honoree, the Tom Hopkins Foundation, were introduced at St. Cajetan Elementary School. The Hopkins Foundation is named after a Morgan Park resident who died of cancer; his children have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars that support local schools and families battling cancer. Their main fundraiser is the annual Papa Hops 16-inch Softball Tournament, which attracts thousands of supporters to Kennedy Park every July.

Although the parade was called off, several other neighborhood traditions rolled on, albeit in different formats.

The Beverly Breast Cancer Walk, in its first year under the leadership of OSF HealthCare, was held virtually on Mother’s Day, May 10. Proceeds benefited OSF HealthCare Little Company of Mary Medical Center.

OSF HealthCare, based in Peoria, merged with Little Company of Mary Hospital on Feb. 1. Hospital President John Hanlon, a Beverly native, retired in July, with Kathleen Kinsella succeeding him.

BAPA was forced to cancel the Ridge Run, the Beverly Hills Cycling Classic and the Home Tour, so it held the inaugural Beverly/Morgan Park Garden Walk in September. The event featured gardens in homes and public spaces, with entertainment and refreshments at several locations.

The Beverly Area Arts Alliance couldn’t host its annual Beverly Art Walk in the fall, so it held the “Alt Walk,” in which art was displayed at local businesses in September and October. With a theme of “pandemograms,” the walk featured works with inspiring messages during the pandemic. In November, The Alliance received a $5,000 grant from the Rex Foundation, a California-based non-profit organization that is named in honor of late Grateful Dead road manager Rex Jackson. Jay Caauwe, of Beverly, serves on the Rex Foundation’s advisory board.

Shane Coleman, a CPD SWAT officer from Beverly, along with his partner, Peter Jonas, rescued a 22-year-old man from the frigid waters of Lake Michigan on Feb. 15. Responding to the scene on Lake Shore Drive, Coleman laid on the ice and grabbed the man from the water. Officials said the water was 41 degrees, with an air temperature of 25 degrees.

The Quilter’s Trunk, 10352 S. Western Ave., was selected as one of 10 shops in North America to be featured in the spring/summer issue of Quilt Sampler magazine, which is published by Better Homes and Gardens. Owner Katie Nathwani and Manager Lisa Wilberding opened their shop in the fall of 2015.

On June 16, BAPA hosted a neighborhood parade honoring the 50th anniversary of the death of the late Chicago Bears Brian Piccolo, who lived in North Beverly. Piccolo’s family attended the parade and expressed their thanks to the community.

National comedian Pat McGann, of Beverly, was star of a comedy special released on various streaming services in late July. The special, titled “When’s Mom Gonna Be Home,” was filmed during two McGann stand-up shows at The Vic Theatre in the fall of 2019 and was produced by Sebastian Maniscalco.

In September, a black woman, Sarena Griffin, was overwhelmed with gratitude when she and two friends received a kind note from a white man at Bacon and Jam restaurant in Mt. Greenwood. During a time when race relations were in the public eye, the customer wrote, “I retired from [the Chicago Police Department] after 33 years. For 33 years, I was prepared to give my life to protect yours. I always knew your lives mattered! Peace.” Griffin said the gesture gave her “a renewed sense of hope.”

Catherine Townsend, an 85-year-old from Morgan Park, beamed with pride on Nov. 6 as a 45-foot blue spruce she planted in her yard over 30 years ago was removed and transported to Millennium Park to become Chicago’s 107th annual Christmas Tree. Townsend’s tree was selected from about 50 entries.

Pat Odom, of Beverly, received a Chicago/Midwest Emmy Award on Nov. 22 for his work in directing “Firsthand: Coronavirus,” a WTTW series featuring 15 stories about people directly affected by the virus.

Odom won in the category of Outstanding Achievement for Public/Current/Community Affairs Programming–Program/Special.

Lucy Riles, a Beverly native, appeared on “The Pack,” a reality TV show similar to “Amazing Race,” with her black Lab, Duchess. The show debuted on Amazon Prime Video in November. Riles and her husband, Tom Riles, also released their book, “Mom vs. Dad,” around that time. The book takes a lighthearted look at the petty arguments of couples and roommates.

In December, the Jimenez Family, of Morgan Park, was visited by Operation Santa, a CPMF tradition in which the families of fallen or catastrophically injured officers are presented with Christmas gifts. Crystal Jimenez joined her children, Ebony, Julian and Angelina, in welcoming Santa. The family lost their husband and father, Samuel Jimenez, in a shooting at Mercy Hospital in November 2018.

The pandemic also brought new ways for people to celebrate momentous occasions, and car parades became common, whether they were for birthdays or to allow teachers to greet students as they streamed through the neighborhood. Parades also drove by local retirement communities several times.

Community concerns

After the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May while he was being taken into custody by police, protests and riots occurred throughout the world. Looting occurred in Chicago and other cities in late May and early June, and several 19th Ward businesses were hit.

Peaceful anti-police brutality protests were also held throughout the summer, with participants sometimes exchanging barbs with counter-protestors. Protests streamed down 111th and 115th streets, and one circled through Beverly/Morgan Park, with marchers blocking traffic on Longwood Drive, 95th Street, Western Avenue and 111th Street.

A mass shooting at Lumes Pancake House, 11601 S. Western Ave., on Aug. 30, left one man dead and several people injured. Police said several offenders approached an outdoor dining tent and opened fire on their intended target. Devon Welsh, 31, of the Back of the Yards neighborhood, was killed. 

Retired Chicago Fire Department Lt. Dwain Williams, of the Longwood Manor neighborhood, was shot and killed outside Let’s Get Poppin’, 11758 S. Western Ave., on Dec. 3. Police said assailants attempted to carjack Williams, and gunfire was exchanged. Williams was struck once in the stomach and died. The popcorn shop held a fundraiser for Williams’ family. Two male teenagers and a 20-year-old man have been arrested and charged with first-degree murder.

A man was shot and killed at a gas station at 119th Street and Western Avenue in Blue Island on Jan. 21. Matt Jones, 27, was killed. Frank Hunter, 20, was charged with first-degree murder.

A shooting took place outside Mt. Hope Cemetery on 115th Street on Sept. 30 as two funeral processions were outside the entrance. One man was shot and wounded, and another was injured by flying glass. Disruptive funerals at the cemetery have been a community concern for many years, and O’Shea has called for the property, which is in unincorporated Cook County, to be annexed to Chicago.

Several other shootings, many of them fatal, occurred in the neighborhood, including in the parking lot of a store at 111th Street and Longwood Drive on Nov. 29. Andre Roberts, a 31-year-old who lived nearby, was killed. O’Shea said the incident was gang related.

Carjackings were prevalent throughout the city, and in mid-November, a 67-year-old man was carjacked at 99th Street and Western Avenue. Police said a teenager stole the victim’s car after an accident; the victim hung on to the passenger’s side door and was dragged several blocks before falling. He was taken to the hospital with contusions and abrasions. A 19-year-old was charged.

The records of the late Dr. Van Koinis, a physician whose office was in Evergreen Park, were investigated by Cook County Sheriff’s Police. Koinis took his own life in September 2019, and in February 2020, police said his suicide note “raised questions about the record keeping of vaccinations at his medical practice.”

Information suggested that in some cases, Koinis did not provide vaccinations to children after their parents requested he not administer them. He then allegedly provided documentation that the child was given a vaccination.

Delivery service from the United States Postal Service (USPS) continued to be a problem. In July, Lipinski wrote a letter to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy expressing his concerns. The letter was co-signed by several other local elected officials. Rush also hosted a virtual town-hall meeting about poor service.

In early December, stacks of mail were seen in the rear parking lot of the Mt. Greenwood USPS station, prompting more concerns. USPS officials said the station received more resources to alleviate the problem. Around the same time, a Mt. Greenwood resident found 19 unopened packages in her trash; they were the responsibility of FedEX and were eventually delivered after officials with the USPS Inspector General retrieved the packages.


Ed Heywood, a longtime Beverly/Morgan Park resident who owned several residential multi-unit apartment buildings in the community, died on Dec. 20, 2019, at age 97. He was remembered for his strong work ethic, devotion to his family and loyalty to his neighborhood.

Frank Burns, a 67-year-old Beverly native who was a coach with the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA), died on Jan. 8. He led teams to success worldwide, and he went on to become NWBA executive director and a member of the NWBA Hall of Fame.

James Patton, 94, a longtime employee of Patton Motor Service in Beverly, died on Jan. 28 after an automobile accident in Oak Forest. Patton, a retired CPD officer and World War II veteran, worked at the auto repair shop with his son, owner Pat Patton. He greeted customers at the front counter and helped out around the shop.

Lindsey Lagestee, a 25-year-old musician from South Holland, died on Feb. 17, three days after she was struck by a vehicle while crossing the street to do a show at Firewater Saloon, 3908 W. 111th St. She was the lead female vocalist for Dixie Crush, a modern country party band from Chicago.

Dr. Jack Hurley, a Morgan Park resident who worked at Little Company of Mary Hospital for over 60 years, died on March 19 at age 92. He was beloved for knowing every detail about patients’ medical history and the countless hours he spent at the hospital.

James Keane, a former state representative from Beverly, died on April 12 at age 85. Keane, a Democrat, was known for reaching across the aisle during his tenure from 1979-1992. He also taught at Leo High School.

Todd Gillerlain, a CPD officer from Beverly, died on May 7 at age 48. Gillerlain was an officer and detective with the CPD for 23 years.

Meg Rooney, a Beverly resident who was a counselor at Kellogg Elementary School, died on May 17 at age 57 after a battle with cancer. Rooney spearheaded several programs at the school, and she also worked in guest relations for the Chicago White Sox for 40 years. Her husband, John Flynn Rooney, died of ALS in 2016. The couple raised three sons, Ned, Jack and Dan.

Norm Lasman, a World War II veteran from Mt. Greenwood, died on June 6 at age 97. Lasman survived a Japanese kamikaze attack in 1945 while aboard the USS Bunker. In 2009, he participated in Honor Flight Chicago (HFC), and he became a spokesperson for the non-profit organization. He represented HFC when it was named grand marshal of the South Side Irish St. Patrick’s Day Parade in 2019.

Richard “Spike” Siegel, a retired Cook County Juvenile Court probationary officer from Beverly, died on June 27 at age 70. He was known for his big heart in working with clients and his dry humor that kept co-workers, family and friends laughing.

Bernard Steuber, the longtime owner of Steuber Florist and Greenhouses in Morgan Park, died on July 22 at age 86. His father, also named Bernard, purchased the shop in 1943, and a third generation now runs the business.

Laura Faye Gradolf, of Beverly, died on Aug. 23 at age 89. As a parent, she was active in the parent teacher associations at Sutherland Elementary School and Morgan Park High School. She was also a longtime member of Bethany Union Church.

Jack Stapleton, a Beverly resident and Korean War veteran, died on Sept. 22 at age 89. After graduating from high school in 1949, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. During a four-year stint, he attained the rank of staff sergeant and served during the war as a radio electronic countermeasures operator stationed on Okinawa Island, Japan.

Phil Doran, a successful attorney from Beverly known for his many charitable deeds, died on Sept. 28 at age 79. Doran was a partner at Balkin and Doran, and he worked with charities including Franciscan Outreach Shelter, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Precious Blood Ministry and Misericordia.

Paula Bukacek, a Beverly resident known for her work at local Montessori schools, died on Oct. 3 at age 88. Bukacek taught at Beverly Montessori for several years, and, with her husband, Richard, she later founded All Day Montessori.

Eric Ortiz, a renowned musician from Mt. Greenwood, died on Oct. 5 at age 38. Ortiz was a talented guitarist who led the band Rendition, which performed regularly at 115 Bourbon Street in Merrionette Park. He could play just about any song, friends said, and lit up a room with his kindness and fun-loving nature.

Isaiah Wade, a 15-year-old student at Mt. Carmel High School, was killed on Dec. 7 after being shot near his home in the Fernwood neighborhood. He was remembered for his athletic and academic achievements, and every day, school officials said, he prayed for “all those who are homeless.”

Patricia Cole, 71, died on Dec. 18 after she was struck by a semi-trailer at the intersection of 111th Street and Western Avenue. Police said Cole was crossing the street when the semi-trailer was turning right at a green light and struck her.

Several people beloved for their involvement with sports—whether as players, managers or coaches—died in 2020.

Jack Roche, 21, of Oak Lawn, was killed on July 12 after he was struck by a vehicle at 111th Street and Pulaski Road. Roche graduated from Marist High School, where he was a manager for several sports and beloved for his passion and attention to detail. He received the Jack Callahan Spirit Award, which is voted upon by the senior class and recognizes a graduating senior who has exceptional school spirit and a never-give-up attitude. He went on to become a team manager with the football program at the University of Kansas.

Ricky Palmer, 29, of Orland Park, died on Oct. 17 after battling brain cancer. Palmer starred in baseball at Br. Rice High School before playing at the University of Notre Dame. He was known for his athletic talent and good nature.

Nick Markulin, the former longtime soccer coach at Br. Rice, died on Oct. 25 after dealing with health issues for several months. Known for his passion and brilliance, Markulin, 72, led the Crusaders downstate six times during his three-plus decades of coaching.

Jack Quinn, a Mt. Greenwood resident who was a former longtime football coach at St. Rita High School, died on Nov. 26 at age 80. He also coached at several elementary schools.

He was known for treating every player equally. “He had the ability to make everyone feel special,” his son Terry said, “in life and in football.”