Whereas Andy Collis is a modest man, it isn’t easy getting him to describe his many years of service to Forest Park. Publicity-shy or not, Andy was saluted with an honorary street sign Sunday, proclaiming the 800 block of Beloit to be Andrew “Andy” Collis Way.
The sign is only a short distance north of Andy’s house. Except for a brief stay at Oak Park Hospital following his birth, Andy has lived at 813 Beloit for almost his entire life. He was nominated for the street sign by one of his neighbors, Michael Thompson, who saw Andy as a tireless volunteer for the village.
Andy has served on the zoning board, police and fire commission and, most notably, as a member of the Kiwanis Club. Andy delivered food and gifts to the needy, helped out on Peanut Day and scheduled pancake breakfasts for young soldiers shipping out to Vietnam. It’s no wonder Andy rose to become club president.
Kiwanis wasn’t all work for Andy. The highlight of the Tuesday get-togethers was carousing with his old friend Ed O’Shea. When Kiwanis cut back from four meetings a month to two, the best buddies failed to inform their families. Andy is still going to Kiwanis meetings. He tells stories that make younger members wish they could have hung out with him in the old days.
When Andy wasn’t volunteering, he was serving his country as an Army cook, after which he became a union printer. He worked as a photo engraver and lithographer for companies like the “Chicago Tribune.”
Andy laments that his printing skills are a “lost art” and joked that the equipment he used could only be seen at the Smithsonian. Now he is known as “Andy the bus driver.” He’s been transporting District 91 kids for 16 years. He recalled the first year he had some troublemakers and wasn’t shy about writing them up. Since then, the school kids have “mellowed” and he enjoys his route. He also likes driving them to sporting events and museums.
Andy is so unassuming; he had no clue he was going to be honored with a street sign until he arrived at a Village Council meeting and saw his name on the agenda. The next meeting, Andy was called up front and a resolution honoring him was read into the minutes. The proclamation was “nicely written up,” Andy said, which explains why he kept his expressions of gratitude so brief.
Actually, Andy keeps all of his personal remarks brief. After Mayor Calderone’s heartfelt speech at the unveiling, Andy spoke only a few words of thanks to the assembled friends, family and village officials. Then the honoree got down to business by inviting everyone to Doc Ryan’s for pizza and beer. Whereas, like anyone who spends time with Andy, we had a ball.