Constable: Mabley the advocate, and mayor, of Glenview
His Chicago newspaper peers often ended their work day at the Billy Goat Tavern with a beer, or two, or eight. But columnist Jack Mabley hustled to make it back to his home in Glenview in time for supper with his wife, Fran, and their kids, Jill, Pat, Anne and Bob. In his later years, he loved to unwind with a friendly tennis match with Fran and friends on the court he had built among the trees in the backyard of their home off Winnetka Road. Or maybe he'd just sit by the window overlooking the lush backyard as he listened to a vinyl recording from one of his jazz favorites.
From the day he joined the Daily Herald in 1988, Jack pushed management to cover Glenview, and beginning last month the newspaper took Jack's advice and launched the Glenview Herald and Northbrook Herald.
Jack bragged about the beauty of homes and gardens and parks. He talked about restaurants and small businesses. Jack and Fran bought their first home in Glenview before the Naval Air Station Glenview was dedicated in 1943.
A World War II veteran, Jack was excited by the possibilities that unfolded with the closing of the air station in 1995. He and Fran moved into an apartment as soon as Chestnut Square at The Glen opened, and Jack died in their new home in 2006 at age 90, while Fran lived there until her death at age 94 in 2015.
They threw parties at the North Shore Country Club in Glenview that were like wedding receptions without a wedding. Jack and Fran made sure to get a good mix of people at each table for the meal, and then the band would play well-known songs, and the couple passed out lyrics so everyone could sing along.
But Jack wasn't just a fan of Glenview. He helped make it what it is today.
After he was elected to the village's park board, he was seen as someone who would work to preserve Glenview's charms.
With developers making plans to add a concrete-mixing plant in the middle of town, Jack was elected village president as the candidate who made good on his promise to put the brakes on that project. On his desk at the Daily Herald was a clock commemorating his term as mayor from 1957-61, with a plaque reading "Mazel Tov."
"I figured I had about 15 friends left in the village after four years of dealing with controversies," Mabley said, figuring those 15 chipped in for the clock.
A philanthropist and activist, Jack served 32 years on the board for Rush North Shore Medical Center, founded the Forgotten Children's Fund, and worked on behalf of charities and organizations such as Lambs Farm, North Shore Senior Center, Clearbrook, Oakton College and countless others.
Calling him a "giant" in journalism for his columns exposing the horrific treatment of disabled people in Illinois, then-Gov. James R. Thompson bypassed Ronald Reagan in the president's hometown of Dixon to name a new state facility the Jack Mabley Developmental Center in 1986. Jack wrote about the downtrodden, children with developmental issues, and injustices. He covered jazz for Downbeat and sports for Playboy, hosted a radio show, and helped produce children's television. He used his bicycle to get to the scene of the 1968 Democratic convention and riots in Chicago.
"It's nice to have a role model like Jack Mabley, straight-up and honest," former congressman and retired federal judge Abner Mikva once said of his longtime friend.
Studs Terkel, the legendary author and oral historian, often sat with Jack in the bleachers at Cubs games when Jack was writing his "View from the Grandstand" column.
"What he has is a certain basic honesty, and for that I am deeply grateful for him," Terkel once said. "Someone you could trust. That's pretty much Jack. In his own quiet way, Jack was always on the side of the underdog. He always had that easy quality. He was easy in manner, and gentle, of course. He has a certain basic integrity to begin with. Jack has his own kind of gallantry."
Jack would have said the same about Glenview.