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  • Kim Piekos

Local Legends Share Behind-the-Scenes Anecdotes from Illustrious Lives

By Kim Piekos

Lake Forest and Lake Bluff have been home to many legendary figures over the years, people who have contributed significantly to the community, the country -- and the world. They all have interesting experiences and lessons that can enrich our lives.

“We wanted to shine a light on all those aspects of what these people do,” said History Center of Lake Forest-Lake Bluff Executive Director Carol Summerfield, explaining why the event was created. The first Local Legend was astronaut Jim Lovell, commander of the perilous Apollo 13 voyage, who was interviewed by Bill Kurtis at Gorton Community Center in 2010.

Former State Sen. and Lake Forest resident Susan Garrett will answer questions from NBC political reporter Carol Marin during the Local Legends event Oct. 7.

Since then, other big names have discussed their lives, including former Sara Lee CEO John Bryan and baseball Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg. This year, the History Center is welcoming former State Sen. Susan Garrett.

How are Local Legends selected? A nominating committee, composed of board and non-board members of the museum, discuss names. “The committee looks at the whole person and his or her wide variety of skill sets, the impacts they have made in more than one space,” Summerfield says. “We consider their interest in receiving the recognition as well.” Summerfield is overwhelmed by the dedication to community and humility of past Local Legend awardees. “All of those we’ve honored have been generous with their time and talent. Gene Hotchkiss, president of Lake Forest College for decades, is highly invested in the idea of maintaining archives around community history and spends a lot of his time working on our Collections Committee at the museum. Jack Schuler, former President of Abbott Laboratories, is more interested in talking about the Schuler Scholar program he created that benefits first-generation college students. This community is overflowing with people like this.”

Summerfield said that Lake Forest resident Garrett -- who will be interviewed by NBC political editor Carol Marin on Oct. 7 at 7 p.m. at the History Center -- is a perfect example of a Local Legend.

“She is a force of nature and an amazing human being. She makes sure that mentorship programs are designed for young women so that they can engage equally within the workplace,” Summerfield noted.

Though tickets for the in-person event are sold out, all are welcome to join remotely on Zoom at the reduced ticket price of $50. Those interested can purchase tickets at

The History Center aims to raise $50,000 this year from the Local Legends event. The remainder of the museum’s $400,000 annual budget relies on funding from private donors and grants.


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