Palatine karate expert spreads art to park district students

When John DiPasquale was 13, he went one day with his cousin to a karate school and got a taste of the martial arts.

He has continued with it ever since. He has since earned a 7th degree black belt and founded a company that has taught karate to thousands of students over the years, he said.

DiPasquale, 58, is owner of Palatine-based Illinois Shotokan Karate Clubs, which he founded in 1978. The company has 35 employees and offers karate programs in 75 suburban park districts around the region. The club also hosts an annual awards banquet and donates money to academic, training and other scholarships to encourage students to "be better than you were yesterday," his longtime mantra.

DiPasquale was born in Chicago and raised in Norridge. But it was a day in 1971 that changed how he would make a living and deal with others. His cousin had been taking karate lessons and DiPasquale went with him and tried it out.

"That's when I knew I wanted to do that for the rest of my life," he said.

He had played other sports in school, but karate showed him a new way of learning, and he convinced his parents to let him take lessons. He took lessons from Loren Rodgers in Des Plaines.

"I just found it so fascinating and I especially liked the way the instructors taught," he said. "They were interested in the individual. It wasn't like they focused just on who was the best and told the rest to go sit over there. If you were good or average, the coach was still interested in you and everybody else. It was a nice situation."

When his instructor encouraged him to take over the business, he did. But that business didn't last and he closed it around 1977.

He later took a job with the Glenview Park District in 1978 and then developed the karate program. He enjoyed teaching the discipline and art of the sport, he said. It also changed into a new business for him, and soon he was offering the karate programs for children and adults to various park districts.

While he has worked with thousands of students over the years, one really stood out.

In 1987, Jennifer Malloy was a 12-year-old student but was diagnosed with cancer. Even after treatments, she continued her lessons. With her mounting medical expenses, the club raised funds to help pay the bills. After she passed away, DiPasquale kept her memory alive by establishing a memorial scholarship, which is provided during the club's annual banquet, he said.

"Just seeing her come in after chemo made me see just how courageous she was," he said.

He wanted to keep that spirit alive and often thinks of her.

"That's why we believe it's important to give back something to the community," he said.

Family to close store

Santilli's Outlet plans to close in January after about 50 years in Roselle and is searching for a new, smaller location in the suburbs. Located on Lake Street near Gary Avenue, Santilli's was founded by Arthur Santilli, now in his 80s. The retailer sold everything from clothing, boots and accessories to bird seed, reading glasses and food items at discounted prices. Arthur owns the property and part of the business, and his daughter, Alex Santilli, 46, owns the remaining portion of the business. She is one of seven children, she said. Current merchandise will be liquidated starting later this month and the property will be leased. A new site has not yet been selected, she said.

Fashionable paper deal

Paul Bessinger, director of innovation at in Lincolnshire, said the company's deal with fashion designer Cynthia Rowley has produced designer copy paper. has already sold more than 1.5 million reams of her designer paper. The paper comes wrapped in floral-enhanced reams, which ship in patterned, shrink-wrapped cartons. Producing the cartons requires three new manufacturing processes that result in deeper and brighter colors. "We're turning something completely functional into a stylish source of everyday delight," he said. "Our strategy was to take advantage of the customer interest in more stylized products in the office, and the success we're seeing shows that's what is happening."


Richard and Eileen Lumpkins, founders of Richard's Chicken & Ribs in Round Lake Heights have been in business for more than 50 years. But Eileen passed away about 3 years ago. In her memory, Richard opened about 2 weeks ago Eileen's Video Gaming Café & Banquet Hall at 916 W. Rollins Road in Round Lake Heights. He'll host a grand opening on Dec. 11. ... Nicole Suchevits of Naperville is the founder and owner of 360 Fit Naperville. A fitness enthusiast said 360 opened in August and puts all types of workouts under one roof, instead of having people go to different gyms and studios. The business has two studios, 14 instructors, various classes for yoga, cycling, Pilates and more.

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John DiPasquale hosted the annual awards banquet for karate students of Illinois Shotokan Karate Clubs, which provides karate instructions at 75 area park districts. COURTESY OF ILLINOIS SHOTOKAN KARATE CLUBS
Paul Bessinger
Nicole Suchevitis
Michael J. Skaff of Glen Ellyn owns Skaff Floral Creations in Hinsdale. COURTESY OF SKAFF FLORAL CREATIONS
Roger Hochschild
Mark Graf
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