A portion of Dunlop Avenue is now named “Dr. Austin Prabhu Way,” in honor of the Forest Park resident who has received a Lifetime Community Service Award from President George W. Bush, three International Presidents Medals from Lions Clubs International, Best Humanitarian Couple Award from Congressman Danny Davis and more. Thirty family and fellow Lions Club members watched as Mayor Anthony Calderone unveiled the new street sign on May 26, which just so happens to be posted between York and Polk where D’Souza and wife Terry live.
“I never thought that before having my name on a stone in the cemetery I’d have my name on a street sign,” D’Souza joked, adding: “I was born outside of this country with a different language and my skin is dark, but this sign is a recognition of how I live. It makes me think that when you do good, people will recognize you.”
The Forest Park Village Council voted on April 9 to name the street after D’Souza, citing nearly 40 honors and awards he’s accomplished during his lifetime, including serving as District Governor of the Lion’s Club, president of the India Catholic Association of America and earning a PhD from the University of Illinois.
“If everyone had just a part of Austin D’Souza in them, the world would be a better place,” Calderone said.
What the resolution did not mention is that D’Souza has also been a pioneer in making Forest Park the diverse community it is today. D’Souza arrived in Forest Park in 1981, travelling from Mangalore, India with his new wife. When he got in town, one his neighbors immediately screamed, “There goes the neighborhood. A Mexican is moving in.” D’Souza responded by treating his neighbor as he wanted to be treated, and said the two are friends today.
“He’s been a great example of how to lead my life,” said his oldest daughter, Anita. “He always says, ‘Treat others the way you want to be treated.'”
He continues his bridge building mission as a member of Forest Park’s Diversity Commission.
D’Souza used the image of a candle to describe his philosophy on life. “I always compare good people to a candle. It burns sacrificing its wax and, while so doing, it gives the people around it light and beauty. My religion includes serving others. Be a good Samaritan. If you have something, share it.”
D’Souza said one of his greatest accomplishments was starting the Vision First Program with the Lions Club. Vision First provided glasses to 85,000 children enrolled in the Chicago Public School system.
“One child ran up to his mother wearing his new glasses, hugged her and said, ‘Mommy, you look so pretty.’ It was the first time he had seen his mom with clear vision,” D’Souza said.
Dan O’Reilly, former mayor of Stickney and past Lion’s Club International Director, said, “I’ve served with Austin on the Lion’s Club district cabinet for 24 years. He’s well deserving of having a street named after him.”