March 13, 2005

Marion Biagi and Frank Heitzman are Awarded the
“Charles E. Gawne Stand-Up for Justice Award”
© Martha Brock photography

“Charles E. Gawne Stand-Up for Justice Award”

The New Leadership Coalition presented the “Charles E. Gawne Stand-Up for Justice Award” to Marion Biagi and Frank Heitzman at the party fundraiser March 6. On behalf of his family and NLC, Stephen Gawne, M.D. bestowed these first-time awards in honor of his grandfather, Charles E. Gawne, a 1933 Oak Park trustee.

Seven decades ago, Trustee Gawne, acting alone, protested Oak Park president’s illegal actions in firing employees and hiring a new village attorney without due process. The president had, also, withheld paychecks from those who opposed his election. Trustee Gawne produced a legal brief from the Illinois Attorney General. The president ordered the police to evict Gawne who, nevertheless, stood his ground and refused to leave.

Now many years and public meetings later, NLC recognizes similarly remarkable people, unsung heroes, who work here in the public interest. The NLC chose Marion Biagi and Frank Heitzman from many qualified nominees. They demonstrate the same courage and strength of purpose as Trustee Gawne, who stood up for justice in the face of great difficulty and opposition.

Marion Biagi, a 45—year resident, persevered in informing neighbors and our community of
Barrie Park’s contamination and its effect on health, safety and welfare, Prom the village’s first village-Barrie Park meeting on September 9, 1998, she helped her neighbors to organize and tirelessly campaigned for trustee awareness. She alerted the community to Barrie Park’s remediation impact on residents’ personal and financial health. Biagi has a history of fighting for us all, from promoting pesticide alternatives to reducing exorbitant pool season—pass fees years ago.

Architect Frank Heitzman champions Oak Park’s historic character. Recently, he alerted our community to the proposed demolition of more than 20 historic buildings in our downtown area. He is committed to promoting accessible design standards that allow everyone to move safely and comfortably around the village. Heitzman is president of Oak Park Architectural League. OPAL is joining the Historical Society and the National Trust
for Historic Preservation to host a forum, “The Downtown Master Plan versus Historic Preservation.” This discussion will take place March 17, 7-9 pm at Pleasant Home.

NLC remains grateful to many involved, talented oak Parkers who contribute to our quality of life.

© Oak Park Journal
published by Suburban Journals of  Chicago Inc.

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