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posted: 11/6/2013 4:25 PM

Arlington Hts. Park Dist. loses one of its early visionaries

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  • Edward Condon of Arlington Heights loved the golf course.

      Edward Condon of Arlington Heights loved the golf course.
    Courtesy of Barbara Condon

  • Edward Condon of Arlington Heights

      Edward Condon of Arlington Heights
    Courtesy of Barbara Condon

 

Life story

Edward Condon ~ 1921-2013

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By Eileen O. Daday

Daily Herald correspondent

It has been 40 years since Edward Condon served on the Arlington Heights Park District board, but his role in developing its neighborhood park system as well as its signature revenue producers, still stands the test of time.

Condon passed away on Saturday. The near 60-year resident of Arlington Heights, was 92.

His name can be found on bronze plaques hanging in many park district facilities, including Olympic Pool and Arlington Lakes Golf Club. He also served on the board at the time the district opened Forest View Racquet Club, and Camelot, Frontier and Heritage parks and neighborhood pools.

Steve Scholten, current executive director of the Arlington Heights Park District, credits Condon and his fellow board members in the late 1960s and 1970s with having the vision to bringing recreational programs and facilities to the homeowners.

"(They) understood the great value of open space, recreational facilities and invigorating recreation programs and how important it is to have these easily accessible to all citizens," Scholten said.

"The system the community enjoys today is a result of impressive visionary thinking and the acumen to make it happen."

Condon was a Navy veteran who, with his wife, Nancy, moved their growing family to Arlington Heights in the early 1950s, when the population was 9,500 people.

At the time, he was working for Esquire Magazine -- with Hugh Hefner -- when John D. MacArthur hired him away to work in marketing for Bankers Life and Casualty insurance company, and its spokesman, Paul Harvey.

His business skills caught the attention of local leaders.

"My dad was specifically asked to join the (park district) board to help put together a bond referendum to expand the park district," says Mark Condon of Arlington Heights. "They were looking to expand it significantly from its two original parks -- Recreation and Pioneer -- and they did."

In 1968, Condon was appointed by then park president, Charles Cronin. Later that year, the park district won a $2.8 million tax increase for park development.

Within two years, park officials opened field houses and swimming pools at Camelot, Frontier and Heritage parks and signed a joint funding agreement with Northwest Suburban High School District 214 to operate Olympic Park indoor pool.

They weren't done yet. In 1971, Condon joined a committee established by the park district to acquire some of the surplus land owned by the U.S. Army for a Nike Base.

"They literally were negotiating with the Defense Department to acquire the land," Mark Condon says.

The federal government conveyed the first parcel of 12 acres to the park district in 1973 and another 52 acres the next year. They turned over the final 26 acres in 1976, before the 18-hole golf course opened in 1979.

"That was the home run for the guys on the board," Mark Condon added. "They all talked about landing that and the negotiations it took to make it happen."

The Condons also were among the founding families of Our Lady of the Wayside Church, where he sang in the choir and helped to form the Holy Name Society.

Mark Condon, the oldest of their seven children, was in the first graduating class of St. Viator High School.

Besides Mark, Ed Condon is survived by Sheila Condon (Kathy Lazear) Pires, Ed (Bridgid Roark) Condon, Nancy Condon Sack, Jean (Nancy Kenney) Condon, Cathleen Condon (Dan) Harro and Michael (Mary) Condon; plus 20 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his wife.

Visitation will be held 3-9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7 at Glueckert Funeral Home, 1520 N. Arlington Heights Road, Arlington Heights.

An 11 a.m. Mass will be held Friday at Our Lady of the Wayside Church, 440 S. Mitchell Ave., Arlington Heights.

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