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Forest Park has a close knit business community, thus it comes as no surprise that they should gather to celebrate each other’s achievements. Thursday one such gathering occurred when many members of the business community gathered on the second floor patio at Doc Ryan’s to celebrate one of their own, Bob Senechalle, who was recently named an associate judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County.

At the cheerful gathering, members of the Main Street Redevelopment Association congratulated Senechalle and spoke of his valuable work in recreating Forest Park’s Main Street and revitalizing its business community,

In fact, as a long time member of the Main Street Redevelopment Association, and its president since May, 2004, Senechalle has played a key role in the revitalization of Madison Street.

His presidency, however, came to an early end when, upon becoming a judge on June 1, Senechalle resigned as president of Main Street and Jerry Vainisi, the President of Forest Park National Bank and Trust Company, has been selected to fill out the 11 months remaining on Senechalle’s term as president.

At the gathering, Art Jones of Forest Park National Bank and Trust, one of the founders of the Main Street Redevelopment Association, presented Senechalle with a plaque honoring him for his service to Main Street.

“Bob, we care a lot about you,” said Jones. “You have brought energy and enthusiasm to our town. You’ve become part of our town.”

Senechalle was moved by the turnout of his friends and colleagues.

“It’s been my privilege to be a board member of Main Street,” said Senechalle. “I’m just very proud of what’s been accomplished in town. I’m going to miss my involvement in Main Street.”

It’s the people who make Forest Park and Madison Street what it is, Senechalle said.

“Most of the people are very active,” said Senechalle. “It’s become a very supportive community. The real character of the street is the entrepreneurs.”

A mainstay on Main Street

Senechalle was one of the early entrepreneurs who have reshaped Madison Street into the vital, eclectic street it has become.

Senechelle, who grew up in St. Charles, IL, has practiced law for 32 years and will be closing down his Madison Street practice when he puts on his judicial robes.

An Oak Parker, his relationship with Forest Park began when, in 1993 he dissolved a partnership he had in Arlington Heights and decided to set up his practice closer to his home.

He decided to buy a building that housed a Hallmark gift card shop on Madison Street. The location was next to Jerry McBride’s insurance agency. McBride and Senechalle were both neighbors and friends through their involvement in Oak Park’s St. Giles Parish.

Senechalle renovated the building and opened his law office there. His legal practice concentrated on business and commercial work, but he also did the occasional will and real estate closing.

Throughout the years, he represented many local auto dealers including Jerry Gleason Chevrolet and Jerry Gleason Dodge.

For the last six years Senechalle has leased space in his building to investment advisor Joe Locke, a long time friend from St. Giles parish. Senechalle, McBride and Locke are part of a 12-person group of friends who take a stag golfing vacation every March to Sea Island, Georgia.

For years they would also wake up early on Sunday mornings to golf at 6 a.m. in Columbus Park. And they would often gather at each other’s homes to perform parodies that they had created of plays that they had seen.

“He has a great wit,” said Locke. “We had a lot of fun sitting around writing parodies.”

Senechalle, Locke, McBride and a few other local business people had a tradition of meeting every Tuesday and Thursday morning in Senechalle’s conference room for coffee.

While Locke will miss seeing his friend on a daily basis he has no doubt that Senechalle will be an excellent judge.

“He is beyond reproach,” said Locke. “He has a great temperament.”

Senechalle will no longer be working in Forest Park, but he is now living here. With their four children grown Senechalle and his wife Dorthea recently purchased a hundred year home they are currently renovating.

Senechalle will be assuming his judicial duties at Traffic Court in the Daley Center, Downtown Chicago, but said his work won’t keep him far away from his friends in Forest Park, whom he may invite over for dinner.

“I’ll still be around,” Senechelle said.