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At the October 15 Village Board meeting, the Lombard Historical Commission announced the winner of the William J. Mueller Lombard Heritage Award. This recipient of this year’s award is the Lombard Cemetery Restoration Project.
The Lombard Cemetery Restoration Project was nominated by Corrine Flemm as an outstanding example of Leadership and Stewardship. The restoration of the Cemetery at 460 S. Main Street has truly been a civic project involving dozens of members of the Community. Representative from many of the participating organizations were on hand for the presentation: The Lombard Cemetery Restoration Committee, Veterans of Foreign Wars Lilac Post #5815 , the Veterans of Foreign Wars Lilac Post #5815 Ladies Auxiliary, the Lombard Citizen's Police Academy Alumni Association , Eagle Scouts Matthew Kaefer, Daniel Kaylor and the Boy Scouts of Lombard Troop #202, Students and Staff of Manor Hill Elementary School, Pleasant Lane Elementary School, Madison Elementary School and Shaefer Elementary School, The Lombard Garden Club, The Lombard Public Works Dept, The Lombard Park District and the Staff and Board members of the Lombard Historical Society.
Significant research and legal work began on the Cemetery property in 2007. The goal was to put a plan in place that would allow the Cemetery to be cared for and maintained going forward. Work has included tree removal, tree planting, landscaping, new paths and benches, a new iron fence and gate, restoration of over 60 damaged tombstones as well as research on individuals interred in the cemetery. To help improve the aesthetics of the cemetery, the Lombard Garden Club planted over 2000 daffodil bulbs.
It was found that nine veterans were buried without tombstones. In 2012, the Historical Society partnered with VFW Lilac Post #5815 to create the Pennies for Patriots, a program in which school children collected change to pay for installing the veterans' tombstones. Hours of research went into gathering the documentation and the family signatures required by the Veterans Administration to provide grave markers. Although the VA supplied the grave markers free of charge, signatures for “next of kin” were required for veterans from the War of 1812, the Civil War and World War I. The Lombard Cemetery is the final resting place for close to 40 Veterans who served in conflicts from the War of 1812 to World War II.
The planning and work at the Cemetery was overseen by the Cemetery Restoration Committee. Members of the committee include Jean Angell, Allison Costanzo, John Egan, Tom Fetters, Marge Neely, Brigitte O’Brien, Pat Poskocil, Sarah Richardt, Eileen Mueller, Rita Schneider, Pat and Carl Shaver, Tom Zilla of VFW Post #5815, Keith Sturgis and Tom Ellis of the Lombard Public Works Department and Bill Sosnowski and Keith Gianorio of the Lombard Park District. As the Chairperson of the Committee Tom Fetters accepted the award from the Village President.
Other nominees for this year’s award were Jack Brust in the category of Lifetime Achievement and the Lombard Carriage House Renovation in the category of Adaptive Reuse or Rehabilitation.
The Lombard Historical Commission is a volunteer Village Board charged with helping the Village recognize and preserve historic sites and structures within the Lombard. Commission President Rita Schneider said, “The most impressive part of this project is how many different groups within our community were involved: school children, the VFW, Boy Scouts, the Garden Club, volunteer and professional historians, the Citizens Police Academy Alumni and I hope I’m not forgetting others. It was wonderful to see them all together knowing that they all played a part in preserving an important piece of Lombard’s heritage. The community is indebted to each of them for their efforts.”
- Visit http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2015/10/29/restoration-of-lombard-ceremony-wins-local-award/ to hear a radio interview with Historical Commission Charwoman Rita Schneider on WBBM.