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  • Kim Piekos

‘Being of Service is Important’: Marks Honored with Temple Award

By Kim Piekos

Perhaps you’ve seen him.  He’s the guy hawking American Legion raffle tickets outside Sunset Foods each year for Lake Forest Day, and the one who organizes the Color Guard for the parade. He’s the guy who clears the holes for American flags to be planted throughout town, and the person who places and removes the flags on holidays. Maybe you heard him play taps at a veteran’s gravesite or perhaps he’s been your Dickinson Hall bus driver.

If so, you’ve experienced the work of Tom Marks, this year’s recipient of the Lawrence R. Temple Public Service Award.

Tom Marks speaks at the dedication of the monument at Veterans Park in 2023.

“Any of you that have experienced these aspects of Lake Forest have been touched by Tom,” said Catherine Waldeck, chairman of the City of Lake Forest Public Service Award Committee. “Tom is a good friend to those in need.”

This award is given by the City of Lake Forest to those who demonstrate extraordinary public service and volunteerism in local government and community organizations. Marks is the seventh recipient of the award.

“In my opinion, this is the highest honor that the city can bestow,” said Waldeck in her speech in February before the Lake Forest City Council, “and it is most appropriately given when it’s given to the unsung heroes in our community, those who quietly give back and who do so without personal motive or agenda, but out of a genuine love for the community and a deep-seated belief in public service.”

“This is a very high honor,” said Marks, a Cedarburg, Wis., native who has lived in Lake Forest for more than 30 years. “I’ve always felt it’s good to be busy, and I’m grateful to have been offered many opportunities to be very useful.”

Marks has held leadership positions at the McKinlock American Legion Post 264, serving as the current president of the Post’s foundation which raised funds to build the monument at Veterans Park at the corner of Deerpath and Green Bay roads.

“His vision for Veterans Park, overseeing it from its design to its dedication, played a crucial role in enhancing the quality of life for others and contributed to the betterment of the community,” Waldeck noted.

He was Post commander a record four times in the Legion’s 105-year history, and he was a past finance officer. Marks is the chairman of community service for the Rotary Club of Lake Forest/Lake Bluff, as well as a member of its Paul Harris Society. He has been a guardian volunteer for the Lake County Honor Flight and on the board of UNICEF.   

Waldeck explained that the Public Service Awards Committee looks for individuals who have demonstrated leadership, responsiveness to the public and city staff, have had extended duration and scope of service to volunteerism, constructive participation in meetings and the ability to represent the community’s values.

“We were struck by the depth and breadth of his civic and community service to the City of Lake Forest,” recalled Waldeck. “Tom is a well-respected volunteer who is truly passionate about Lake Forest and a civic-minded individual whose values and commitment reflect his altruistic, honest and heartfelt love for the city.”

“It is my belief that being of service is important,” Marks said. “Lake Forest Day is important. Rendering honors to veterans when they pass is important. Decorating graves is important. I am happy to have had the time and energy to assist in continuing these endeavors.”

He believes that Lake Forest is brimming with talent and heart.

“This town is really blessed with having a lot of people who are willing, able and smart and who volunteer their time and talent to get things done. I try to play my part and do what I can.”

Marks credits his initial community involvement to his experience in banking.

“When you’re a community banker, being an active part of the community is pretty important,” he said. “I have the time, and I’m blessed to have good health. ‘Just keep at it’ is my motto.”


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