2008 Hall of Fame Inductees
The inductees are:
Community Service - Richard G. Steele
Richard G. Steele (Morris), age 72, was a radio announcer since from 1964 until his retirement in 1999. He still keeps his hand in radio, however, by hosting a popular talk show every Sunday for WCSJ radio in Morris. The main part of the program is to highlight local events and organizations. He tirelessly promotes youth sports and healthy living. Steel ran for County Board in 2002 and was elected to the board with the highest vote ever. As a board member, he serves on committees ranging from the environment and health to Route 66 and the Emergency Food and Shelter Board. He’s helped to raise over $100,000 for underprivileged children, and moderates two events each year to help domestic violence and child abuse victims. He has worked to help United Way, Operation St. Nick, the Veteran’s Assistance program and the Grundy County Corn Festival. Steele was nominated by Vicki Surman.
Education - Gerald Keck
Gerald Keck (Flanagan), age 68, taught for 45 years in Flanagan elementary and high schools and has shared his musical talents for 41 years in church. He directed children’s plays in the Pontiac Park for 25 years. Keck’s love of music and his talent emerged early on; he began playing the organ in church at age 14, and became choir director before he graduated from high school. He went on to play music during college at Illinois State, and later taught in Flanagan. The school board created a full-time music instructor position, which Keck held until he retired in 2006. His wife, Jean, is also a fine musician and they have often worked together as a team. Keck was nominated for the Hall of Fame by the Livingston County Retired Teacher’s Association.
Work Force - Ramon H. Mason
Ramon H. Mason (Morton), age 90, practiced law for more than 50 years until July 1, 2008. He began his career after receiving his bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign, and later attended post-graduate classes at Harvard Law School. Mason served the residents of the area for decades as the attorney for the school board and district and other community entities for years. He practiced his profession with ethics, dignity and compassion. He is a philanthropist and activist, having co-founded We Care, Inc., a social service agency providing meals and transportation to those in need, and Project Daybreak, a pioneering adult day service. Mason is a Korean War veteran, and a veteran of World War II who was involved in the invasion of Japan. Mason was nominated for the Hall of Fame by his son, Craig T. Mason.
Performance & Graphic Arts - John Podmajersky, II
John Podmajersky, II (Chicago), age 86, has a steadfast commitment to the idea that the quality of an environment is its community. Podmajersky revolutionized the real estate business, defining success not by a profit but by the quality of the community, even when it came at the expense of monetary gains. An offspring of his philosophy is the Chicago Arts District, as well as his establishment of the Annual Pilsen East Artist’s Open House. His ambitious work has established lasting bonds between diverse socio-economic groups. A book titled "Urban Spirituality" is dedicated to Podmajersky’s visionary views of improving the urban environment. Podmajersky was nominated by Alderman Danny Solis.
For more information on the Senior Illinois Hall of Fame, contact the Illinois Department on Aging Senior HelpLine.