I was reminded once again of how good-hearted Forest Parkers can be at the dinner where Scott Entler received the “Kiwanis Ed O’Shea Service to Youth Award.” The third floor of the Park District was filled with over eighty friends and relatives of Scott and other recipients of the award.

They were there to honor Scott for his tireless service to our schools and Park. It was also a celebration of the 90th Anniversary of the Kiwanis Club of Forest Park, which was born on April 23, 1923 in the Roos Building.

On the local level, the club funds youth sports, juvenile literacy and music education. Kiwanis is also engaged in a world-wide battle against disease. Secretary Jerry Lordan described how the organization successfully took on spastic paralysis, turning a 90 percent mortality rate into a 90 percent survival rate. The current Kiwanis campaign is against Maternal/Neonatal Tetanus.

Jerry spoke of how exposure to tetanus at birth kills 60,000 babies a year and endangers their mothers. He showed heartbreaking images of newborns suffering from this agonizing disease, which takes their lives within a week. Kiwanis is partnering with UNICEF to administer immunizations to eradicate the disease. The cost of these shots: sixty cents.

President Bill Gerst returned the focus to Forest Park by thanking the O’Shea family for their service and introducing long-time Kiwanian, Mayor Anthony Calderone. The mayor acknowledged previous recipients: Andy Collis, Joe Byrnes, the late Laureen Thornton and Denny Moran.

He described how Denny recruited him to join Kiwanis twenty-two years ago. He recalled how the club used to meet weekly. It was a “night out for the boys” because women weren’t allowed in the organization until 1987. He praised Kiwanis for keeping people connected in service to the community. On Christmas mornings, Kiwanians gathered at the Park to wrap presents. Two volunteers would then dress as Santa Claus and deliver the gifts to the underprivileged kids of Forest Park.

Following the mayor’s speech, the big moment arrived, as Eric Entler presented the award to his dad. Eric reflected on the many people who tell him unsolicited stories of how his dad touched their lives. There was a standing ovation as Scott accepted the plaque. He spoke of how fortunate he was to live and work in Forest Park. Scott spent 39 years teaching Forest Park kids. He has also managed the pool for three decades.

Scott read the words on the plaque that confirmed, “One Can Make a Difference.” He spoke of how Ed O’Shea was a gentleman’s gentleman who never failed to inquire about his three sons. He acknowledged his mentor and friend, retired Principal Ed Phillips. He thanked former neighbor Dr. Jim Murray for teaching him to make “hobo soup.”

He also praised his wife, Barb and talked of how Forest Park has been so good to him and his family.

Scott was especially moved to see his former students in attendance and commended them for the contributions they’re making to the community. “We have one hell of a town,” Scott declared, describing how close-knit Forest Park can be. Getting choked up at the end, he said, “I tried to make a difference – this award means I did.”

The Kiwanis Award would seem to be a culmination of Scott’s career of service to Forest Park. However, Park Director Larry Piekarz once again refused to take back his keys to the pool, so there will be a familiar face in the manager’s office next summer.

John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.

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