Tag: Rolando Villegas

‘She Cared,’ Says Former Students of Retired Maywood Teacher

Cover photo_Standalone to refer to page 9.jpg

Janet Nendze, who retired from Melrose Park Elementary School in May after a 39-year teaching career, accepts praise and thanks from family members and former students during a July 9 surprise party.  | Shanel Romain/VFP

Maywood teacher photo 6_Page 9 jumpFriday, July 14, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

Tony Favela, a 1996 graduate of Melrose Park Elementary School, still talks fondly of his physical education teacher, Janet Nendze, who retired in May. That’s partly because of what she did for him during his eighth grade year.

“I got into a lot of trouble in eighth grade,” Favela recalled during a surprise party held for Nendze on July 9 at Miller Meadows Forest Preserve in Maywood.

“I couldn’t even walk across the stage during graduation. They told me to come pick up my diploma on the last day of school in the principal’s office,” Favela said.

“A couple of days before graduation, Ms. Nendze was like, ‘Go buy a disposable camera and when you get your diploma, meet me in the gym.’ That’s what I did,” he said. “She borrowed a cap and gown and took a picture of me so I’d at least have that memory.”

Favela was one among dozens of Nendze’s former students, most of them in their 20s and 30s, who wanted to let the PE teacher of 39 years know how much they appreciate that she cared.

Maywood teacher photo 7_Page 9 jump

Former students of Nendze’s during a July 9 surprise party held for the retired teacher. | Shanel Romain/VFP

“When we had personal trouble at home and personal issues, Ms. Nendze was always there to talk to us, to give us advice, to assure us that everything would be alright,” said Rolando Villegas, who graduated from Melrose Park in 1998.

“She was more than just a gym teacher,” he said. “She was a friend, a mentor, a counselor, an advisor and a coach.”

Amelia Martinez, Class of 1985, remembers the time that Nendze intervened during a conflict between Martinez and another girl at school.

Maywood teacher photo 4_Page 9 jump

A former co-worker of Nendze’s takes a photo with the teacher and her former students. | Shanel Romain/VFP

“She pulled us into the girl’s locker room and was like, ‘You both need to stop this nonsense, you can’t listen to the he-said, she-said,’” Martinez recalled. “That moment will always stay in my head. From that day on, that girl and I became best friends. We’re best friends to this day.”

Despite the laughter that coated the warm summer afternoon, the Sunday gathering was prompted, in part, by tragedy. On May 22, a week before what would’ve been her last day of teaching, Nendze’s husband passed.

Nendze’s granddaughter, Alaina Gallaway, said that her grandfather had been in the hospital on and off, but that his death was still unexpected.

Maywood teacher photo 10_Page 9 jump

Former students of Nendze’s, including Elizabeth Salgado (far left), Amelia Martinez (second from left) and Veronica Montoya (far right). | Shanel Romain/VFP

“My husband would always say that he could hardly wait for me to retire,” said Nendze, who lives in Maywood. “I have sisters who live out of state and our daughter is in Texas. He looked forward to us traveling to see them. Right now, I’m taking things day by day.”

Nendze said that one of her three children (her daughter visiting from Texas) took her out to eat before springing the surprise. Many of her 14 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren were in on the act, making plans on Facebook weeks in advance (“they know I don’t do Facebook, I don’t have time for that”), and setting up in the park the day of the celebration.

Maywood teacher photo 11_Page 9 jump

Former students Thomas Martineck, Rolando Villegas and Tony Favela during the July 9 surprise party for their longtime gym teacher Janet Nendze. | Shanel Romain/VFP

The gathering allowed Nendze some temporary relief from a period of mourning that’s still in the early stages. There are more tears still to be shed, but on Sunday, it was all about laughter — and the memories.

Nendze said she grew up wanting to be a teacher, but her inspiration to teach PE, specifically, came from a gym teacher “I had and who I loved.”

“Back then, the gym teachers wore long skirts and we did a lot of the same stuff over and over again,” she recalled. “I had so much fun in gym class that I wanted to get kids to have that kind of fun, too. And I wanted them to be healthy while having fun.”

Maywood teacher photo 3_Page 9 jump

A former student embraces Janet Nendze, who retired in May. | Shanel Romain/VFP

Nendze, who started her teaching career in District 89 in 1977 (she started teaching at Melrose Park in 1980), said that when she thinks back on her teaching experiences, the fondest memories are often encapsulated in the little moments.

“When you see a child the first time they catch a ball and the smile that lights up their face,” she said. “When you’re coaching and someone had a great hit. I’m getting those flashback memories.”

Elizabeth Salgado, Class of 1997, had Nendze as a volleyball coach at Melrose Park (Nendze also coached softball and volleyball at Proviso East for over a decade, in addition to Little League softball). Salgado was the first third-grader at the school to play volleyball with seventh- and eighth-graders.

Maywood teacher photo 5_Page 9 jump

Janet Nendze with her some of her three children, 14 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. | Shanel Romain/VFP

“Our practices were in the morning and she would often come with a tray of homemade brownies,” Salgado said. “She was like a second mother to us.”

Former student Thomas Martineck said that he would often go back to visit Nendze even after he graduated from Melrose Park and enrolled at Proviso East High School.

“I went back there for years while I was going to Proviso just to talk to her,” he said.

“I did that, too,” said Villegas, Salgado’s brother, before explaining his motivation. “She cared. She didn’t give up on anybody. She went out on the limb for you, even if you messed up. She was there to straighten you back out.” VFP

For more local stories, ‘Like’ VFP on Facebook


Business reception Detailed Flyer_July

Maywood Mayoral, Clerk and Trustee Candidates Officially File | Several Face Challenges

Maywood board seat.png

Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins and Village Clerk Viola Mims. | File

Wednesday, December 28, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

With the Dec. 19 filing deadline having passed, the race for the three open trustee seats and one open mayoral seat on the Maywood Board of Trustees, in addition to an open village clerk seat, that will be up for grabs on April 4, 2017 has somewhat solidified.

Seven people filed the required documentation to run for mayor, including sitting Mayor Edwenna Perkins, who is seeking reelection; sitting trustee and former mayor Henderson Yarbrough; sitting first-term trustee Antonette Dorris; attorney Luther Spence; liquor commissioner Mary “May” Larry; community activist Quincy Johnson; and resident Kathy Travis.

Perkins, Johnson, Spence and Travis are all running as independents while Yarbrough is running atop the Maywood United Party slate, Dorris is running atop the Maywood Visionary Party slate and Larry is running atop the My Maywood slate.

While technically independent, Perkins is running in solidarity with three independent trustee candidates — Kimyada Wellington, Elijah Goodwin III and Rolando Villegas.

Yarbrough’s Maywood United Party includes sitting trustee Michael Rogers; former trustee Audrey Jaycox and businessman Antonio Sanchez as its three trustee candidates. Former District 209 school board member Readith Esther is the slate’s candidate for clerk.

Dorris’s Maywood Visionary Party comprises sitting trustee Melvin Lightford, businessman Joseph Wilson and realtor Drena Lanier as trustee candidates. Steven R. Smiley is the party’s candidate for clerk.

Larry’s My Maywood slate includes former trustee Marcius Scaggs, library trustee Tanya T. Butler and Sammie B. Rogers as its candidates for trustee. Sitting village clerk Viola Mims is running for reelection on the slate.

Randy Carter, a Maywood Public Library employee, is running as an independent candidate for trustee who said that he’ll run in solidarity with Spence.

Several of those candidates, however, face objections to their candidacies. Yarbrough was the first candidate against whom an objection was filed. Earlier this month, Maywood resident Linda Reedy filed a challenge against Yarbrough, claiming that his petition sheets were misleading because they included the date of the February Primary election.

Numerous other candidates face challenges as well. We’ll update this story once those are ferreted out. VFP

Correction: This post has been updated to reflect the correct spelling of Mary “May” Larry’s name. VFP regrets the error. 

For more local news, ‘Like’ VFP on Facebook

Facebook Like


Anti-Video Gambling Movement Grows in Maywood

Video gambling poster

A group of Maywood residents have started to have lawn signs printed that express opposition to video gambling establishments in the village. | Facebook photo

Wednesday, July 6, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews || @village_free

What began as an online petition to raise opposition to a proposed video gambling and liquor establishment on Lake Street in Maywood has morphed into something of a grassroots movement that could potentially affect next year’s local election.

The petition, created on June 21, has garnered 103 signatures, including that of a sitting Maywood trustee and at least one liquor commissioner. But Maywood resident Wayne Beals, who created the petition and is spearheading awareness efforts, said those signatures are only the beginning of what’s become growing opposition to the proposed video gambling establishment — at least the second such establishment that has sought a hearing before the liquor commission in less than a year.

Beals said that opponents of the video gambling establishment have started printing lawn signs and that there could be talks by some residents of trying to put the issue to a referendum vote in the April 4, 2017 consolidated election.

Lucky Brew LLC, a video gambling establishment seeking to move to 406 Lake Street, not far from a new dance studio going up for the nonprofit Maywood Fine Arts, was scheduled to appear before the village’s liquor commission at a June 28 hearing, but no representatives from the company showed up.

Another liquor commission hearing is scheduled for July 25, 6:30 p.m., inside village council chambers at 125 S. 5th Ave. in Maywood.

The establishment is seeking a Class M Liquor license, which is typically considered a necessity for opening the gambling establishments. The liquor commission, which is chaired by Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins, votes on a recommendation to give to the Maywood Board of Trustees, which is the only body whose votes on the issuance of the license is binding.

At least one liquor commissioner, Rolando Villegas, has expressed his disapproval of the measure. Villegas, along with Maywood trustee Toni Dorris, signed the petition. Both are widely rumored to be running for office in April.

According to Beals, who was in attendance at the June 28 meeting, around 10 people spoke during its public comment section — all of them in opposition to the Lucky Brew proposal. Most of the comments referenced the proposed establishment’s proximity to the new Maywood Fine Arts dance studio, which is set to open in August on a plot of land spanning 14 to 18 N. Lake St.

Other comments pointed to the possibility of a video gambling establishment generating numerous quality of life problems, such as loitering, which residents said are already rampant in that area of the village.

Lucky Brew’s proposal comes months after the village board voted 4 to 3 to approve a Class M Liquor License for Lacey’s Place, a proposed video gambling bistro seeking to locate at 611 W. Roosevelt Rd.

Mayor Perkins and Trustees Michael Rogers, Isiah Brandon and Henderson Yarbrough voted in favor of the proposal while Trustees Antoinette Dorris, Melvin Lightford and Ron Rivers voted against it.

Those who voted in favor of Lacey’s noted the tax revenue potential of the business, in addition to the appropriateness of its proposed location along one of the busiest commercial arteries in the village.

The Lacey’s Place proposal is far from a sure thing, however, since the owners are stuck in a lease dispute with the landlord of the building into which they’re seeking to move.

So far, no other village board members besides Dorris have come out either for or against the Lucky Brew proposal. VFP

U P C O M I N G  E V E N T SMovie Night

Operation Uplift Vendor Days 


Need a place to sell your wares? Take advantage of Operation Uplift’s vendor days! 

Sunday and Saturday, July 16 and 17 || 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Operation Uplift, 104 S. 5th Ave. (corner of 5th Ave. and St. Charles), Maywood, IL

For pricing and more information, call Jeri Stenson at (708) 289-4955 or Dorothy Hall at (708) 373-2862


VOR Community Resource.png

20th Anniversary of Maywood Old Timers Picnic Aug. 20

Old Timers Picnic

This year will mark the 20th Anniversary of the annual Maywood Old Timers Picnic, one of Maywood’s most anticipated community-wide events that was started as a way to reconnect the village’s present with its past.

“I was running into people at funerals and visitations I hadn’t seen in years and we would sit and talk,” said Marilynn Jefferson, a longtime Maywoodian, now retired and living in Georgia, who helped establish the first Old Timers Picnic.

“I finally said, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice where we had time we could all be together and it would not be a sad occasion?’” Jefferson reminisced during an interview at last year’s event.

Since its founding, the event has become a source of history for those interested in mining the village’s rich past.

This year, the picnic will be held on Aug. 20 at Maywood Veterans Memorial Park, 5th Ave. and Fred Hampton Way (or Oak St.).

Bring your family and friends. There will be food, fun and entertainment. For more information, call (708) 740-0747. Please leave a voicemail if you don’t get through

For more local news, ‘Like’ VFP on Facebook

Facebook Like