STEGER | Lou Sherman, one of the area's longest-serving municipal officials, has stepped down from his government post.
But the 85-year-old is not quite retiring.
Until earlier this month, Sherman was the village president of Steger, a position he held for 10 four-year terms.
That falls short of the 51 years served by Donald Stephens as village president of Rosemont until his death in 2007, or the 50 years already served -- with two years remaining on his current term -- by Bob Butler, the mayor of Marion in southern Illinois.
Edward Paesel, of the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association, said Sherman’s stint is a record for the region, with only Gerald Bennett, of Palos Hills, and Edward J. Zabrocki, of Tinley Park, both first elected in 1981, coming close.
Sherman thinks his 40 years is special, since he said it shows he had the trust of Steger residents.
“People here were pretty good to me, I had a good relationship with the citizens of Steger,” Sherman said. “That’s what helped keep me getting re-elected.”
Not that the Sherman name is going to leave the memories of Steger residents any time soon. There is a Lou Sherman Drive. And upon his departure this month following the April 9 elections, the village’s community center was officially renamed for him.
Sherman’s successor, Kenneth Peterson Jr., said he has tabbed him to serve in a “special assistant” position, so he won’t be completely absent from the Village Hall.
“When somebody has been around for 40 years, it is hard for everybody to see them suddenly step down,” Peterson said.
Sherman said he thinks his greatest accomplishment during his 40 years was the construction of the community center at 3501 Hopkins St.
“Everybody has been able to enjoy it,” he said.
He said he also is pleased that municipal government gained a proper building during his watch. Prior to the mid-1970s, the Village Board held its meetings in a backroom of the village’s fire station.
Although Peterson said Sherman should also be remembered because Steger has a Kmart. He said that Sherman personally visited Kmart headquarters in Troy, Mich., to persuade corporate officials to consider his village for one of their stores.
“That had a huge economic impact on the village,” Peterson said.
Not that Sherman accomplished everything he wanted. By his own admission, he wishes he could have done more to resurface the streets of Steger.
“I wanted to get them all done, but there are a few that still need work,” he said.
Sherman became an integral part of Steger, even though he was born in Pine Plaines, N.Y., and raised in several orphanages in that area. World War II and Army service in Germany got him out of there.
Following the military service, he worked in New York City for one year, before moving to the Chicago area. He took a job with the facility then known as the Glenwood School for Boys where he worked for a decade in various roles.
Sherman then went to work for ITT Continental as a route salesman, where he stayed until his retirement from business in 1985. He moved to Steger in 1958, became a member of the local Kiwanis Club chapter, rising to the rank of lieutenant governor, and was first elected village president in 1973.
He does he have any plans to leave Steger, saying he will continue to fight against what he perceives as some people’s willingness to “look down” upon his hometown.
“I think we should all look up toward it, it’s a super town to live in,” Sherman said. “We have first-class citizens here. It’s a great town to live in, because we care about our community.”