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Posted 07 June 2007 - 11:20 AM
chicagotribune.com >> Local news
Stephens image lives on, if you get the angle right
By Richard Wronski
Tribune staff reporter
Published June 7, 2007
After 51 years as mayor of Rosemont, Donald Stephens assumed something akin to deity-like status for many people in the northwest suburb.
Now, even after his death, perhaps it continues.
Eerily, a likeness of the late mayor's face has appeared on a tree outside the village-owned health club, according to some people who have seen it. In a town still grieving for the larger-than-life mayor, who died April 18, the mysterious image is sure to add to the Stephens mystique.
Among the believers are Stephens' sons.
"It's unmistakable," said Mark Stephens, who dropped by Wednesday afternoon to study the impressionist-looking image amid peeling bark. "I come here all the time and I never looked at the tree. I never noticed it. It sure is unusual. I'll put it that way."
Bradley Stephens, who was named acting mayor after his father died, also is convinced that the tree bears a rough likeness to his dad. He joked that it may be his father's way of keeping him on his toes.
"He told me, you screw things up, I'm gonna haunt you," Bradley Stephens said. "When it starts talking, we're all in trouble."
The 50-foot sycamore stands outside the entrance to the Willow Creek Club, 10255 Higgins Rd. For the last two weeks or so, health club members and employees have been buzzing about "the face" they see on the tree bark.
At first, several thought it was the image of a bearded Jesus. On Friday night, someone even placed a candle in front of the tree.
But mostly, observers insist it bears an astonishing likeness to the official portrait of the mayor that hangs just inside the club's entrance. In particular, they note the similarity between the tilt of the head and the arch of the mayor's eyebrow.
"It's the way he used to BAD_WORD his left eyebrow a lot. That's the thing that made me think it's him," village spokesman Gary Mack said.
Of course, a lot depends on the lighting and the angle from which it's viewed. The image appears at its best when viewed through the glass doors inside the club's lobby.
Doug DuBrock, executive director of the health club, has worked there for years but never noticed anything remarkable about the tree until recently, when workers pointed out "the face."
"It's all in the eye of the beholder," he said. "If you want to look hard enough at something and that helps you, then so be it."
Cathy Sansone, membership director, said members were the first to spot the image.
"They said, 'Doesn't it kind of look like somebody?' " she said. "Everybody started coming out and looking at it and taking pictures with their phones."
Sansone admitted she could make out the image only after it was pointed out to her.
"Power of suggestion," she said.
Club member Arnold Meisner of Northbrook called it "a stretch" to say it was the late mayor.
"I do see the possibility," he said. "I can see a silhouette, one eye, a nose, a chin. I can see that effect. But Stephens? You can't convince me of that."
As word of the image spread Wednesday, officials put up barricades to keep onlookers from getting too close to the tree.
The club was opened about 15 years ago in a former screw factory. At the time, workers wanted the tree to come down because it was standing in the entrance.
"[The mayor] said, 'Oh, no, you're not. That's a beautiful tree,'" Bradley Stephens said.
A couple of years later, it began to lose bark and show distress. Again, the mayor came to the rescue when some suggested getting rid of it.
"He said, 'Hell, no. We're going to get someone out there to take a look at it,'" Bradley Stephens said.
Arborists examined the tree. Workers cut away a concrete apron around the trunk and gave it more room to grow.
"The mayor worked very hard to save this tree," DuBrock said. "He is smiling down on us. That's one way to look at it."
Posted 07 June 2007 - 11:32 AM
Posted 07 June 2007 - 02:16 PM
Thanks Steph for the article! That's not too far from where i live. Do u have a picture to go along with the article?
No kidding.... I am moving to Des Plaines next month. I might grab hubby tonight and go take a pic of it. Granted I dont have a clue what the guy looked like in life... But it definately looks like a face doesnt it?
Posted 07 June 2007 - 02:37 PM
Well, what do you think? Is it a good likeness, or are we "barking up the wrong tree?"
Edited by earth_spirit, 07 June 2007 - 02:46 PM.
Posted 07 June 2007 - 02:48 PM
Posted 07 June 2007 - 02:49 PM
Posted 07 June 2007 - 03:42 PM
Posted 07 June 2007 - 05:11 PM
Posted 07 June 2007 - 07:09 PM
Posted 07 June 2007 - 10:55 PM
Posted 07 June 2007 - 11:20 PM
Posted 08 June 2007 - 01:06 PM
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