WHS Director Patti Van Cleave was nominated as 2015 Woman of the Year by the Winnetka-Northfield Chamber of Commerce. The following are excerpts from her acceptance speech given at the Chamber’s Annual Luncheon on April 8, 2015:
Reflecting on what it means to be a Winnetkan, it comes to mind that community is about the people. I have met and worked with so many talented and FUN people over the years: from my lifelong Junior League and church friends, to fellow parents– whether we were working on the Crow Island runathon, Skokie-Washburne benefit, or New Trier graduation– to my good friends at the Historical Society and Rotary. I love Winnetka!
Growing up as a third generation Winnetkan, I lived near Faith Hope, so my world was limited to “uptown”, Crow Island, and the streets surrounding my house.
I knew the names of most of my neighbors. I knew I could stop at their houses and ask for help or use the phone. The neighborhood moms knew me and knew what I was doing. I was all too aware that my mom would find out if I did anything suspect. I love the people of Winnetka!
My favorite go-to spots as a kid? Charlie’s for pretty much anything. Phelan’s or Conney’s for candy. Even better–the Sweet Shop for penny candy of any type that I could imagine, and ice cream! I’ll never forget buying birthday presents at the Toy Store, or going on a special shopping trip with my grandparents, and coming home with the package wrapped in their famous polka-dot paper. I love shopping in Winnetka!
As a teen, driving down to the beach, through the lagoons or all the way to Evanston, I became aware of the scope of the beautiful area in which we lived. This was much more apparent to me after I went away to college and began to see other parts of the country. Coming home was always a pleasure.
When I married my high school sweetheart Brian, we bought a house in Highland Park. I told him that I wanted to buy a house in Winnetka, more specifically in Crow Island, so our kids (who hadn’t been born yet) could have the same opportunities that I had. We did that in 1987, a year before our first child was born. I love the schools in Winnetka!
My work in the village has found me many friends– people who are just as dedicated to the future and success of this village– people who care deeply for each other and for what it means to be a Winnetkan. – Patti Van Cleave