Sal Ferrara

The Forest Park Village Council, Monday night, unanimously approved a resolution designating the section of Harrison Street between Elgin and Circle avenues “Salvatore Ferrara II Way.”

Ferrara was the chairman of Forest Park’s Ferrara Pan Candy Company until he resigned on March 12, 2014. The company has been a village icon since 1959. Ferrara has been involved with the company since 1973, and took over as chairman after his father, Nello Ferrara, passed away in 2012. Eight months after leaving the company, Sal Ferrara died of esophageal cancer.

In the resolution, the village council described Ferrara for his contributions to the company, the confection industry in general and the charitable donations to various civic organizations in Forest Park and beyond. While the resolution was approved during the Sept 28 meeting, the Ferrara family won’t receive their copy until the official honorary street dedication, which will take place on Oct. 3 at 10 a.m. Mayor Anthony Calderone told the Forest Park Review that the honorary sign will be placed in front of the factory, underneath a sign honoring Nello Ferrara.

Ferrara Candy Company was founded by Salvatore Ferrara II’s grandfather in 1908. It is best known for nationally familiar candy brands such as Lemonheads, Atomic Fireballs, Red Hots and Boston Baked Beans. 

Ferrara was involved with the company for most of his life. After graduating from Loyola University of New Orleans, he became a general partner. He became president and CEO in 1986. As the resolution notes, during Ferrara’s tenure, the company expanded outside the United States and introduced new items such as “Black Forest” Gummies. When Nello Ferrara died in 2012, Sal Ferrara became the company chairman. Shortly thereafter, they merged with Catterton Partners, an investor group that owns Farley’s & Sather’s — makers of Jujyfruits, Chuckles and Brach’s hard candies. In March 2014, Ferrara retired but remained Ferrara Pan’s biggest shareholder.

While the village council resolution dealt with Ferrara’s business accomplishments, it also delved into his civic involvement, touching on his lifelong enthusiasm for the Chicago Blackhawks and his time on the Chicago Blackhawk Alumni Association Board of Directors. 

The resolution said that while he was “known in the candy industry for his keen mind for business, closer to home, Sal was celebrated for his generosity and loyalty to his family, his company, and the many organizations for which he contributed. In addition to his desire to help local organizations during regular fundraising events, his employees knew that if one worked hard, you would have a job for life. He was a mentor and a friend who has left many heavy hearts behind.”

After the resolution was read, Calderone addressed the audience. He explained that, as a member of the Sons of Italy, he has been a master of ceremonies for the organization’s Leonardo Da Vinci Award for 14 years.

“I had the pleasure of emcee-ing the night we gave [Sal Ferrara] the award,” said Calderone.

He noted that anyone who lived in Forest Park for any length of time would know about Ferrara Pan, especially during the summer — but its impact went far beyond its physical presence.

“They were a terrific corporate neighbor,” said Calderone. “Anyone who approached the company for help was treated with kindness and respect.”

He listed a number of organizations that benefitted from Ferrara’s assistance, including the local park district and Boy Scouts chapters.

A group of Ferrara family members attended the meeting. While Calderone said he would give them the copy of the resolution during the honorary street dedication, he wanted to make sure they were recognized at the Sept. 28 council meeting.

“I thought I would just ask the members of the Ferrara family to stand up and be recognized,” he said.

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