The Austin Green Team this past Saturday hosted its annual memorial for those community leaders who have passed on. The ceremony, taking place at Washington and Laramie, consisted of names engraved onto bricks, and placed in a slot of the memorial by a community activist, a family member, friend or representative of the decease. Each presenter mades a few comments about their loved one before making the installation.

The 2006 Community Heroes and presenters were:

Honoree: Garfield McNeal/presenter Pharmey McNeal

Garfield “Mac” McNeal was a block club leader and a South Austin Coalition (SACCC) mainstay at steering committee meetings. He often gave the opening prayer at SACCC meetings.

Honoree: Ida Sutton/presenter: Rev. Elizabeth Bynum, chaplin and senior advisor at SACCC

Sutton was an outspoken leader at SACCC senior meetings, community rallies and protests.

Honoree: Virginia Forsythe Walker/presenters: Flossie Nelson and Ruthie Hooker Walker was a strong advocate with SACCC for years on utility issues, traveling to Washington and Springfield with Otto McMath and Lillian Drummond to win major victories for low-income utility customers

Honoree: Nancy Jefferson/presenter: George Lawson, vice president of Austin Green Team

Jefferson was founder of the Midwest Community Council. Jefferson, often called the “Mother Theresa” of the West Side, was appointed to the Chicago Police Board by former Mayor Jane Byrne. She was also an advisor to the late Mayor Harold Washington. Jefferson headed Midwest Community Council, located in East Garfield Park, for more than 25 years. Jefferson died on Oct.18, 1992.

Honoree: Illinois Daggett/presenter: Mary Peery, president of Austin Green Team

Daggett was a longtime activist on education and other West Side community issues, and founder of the Austin Anti-Crime program and the Austin Development Center.

Honoree: Len Sharber/presenter: Jackie Reed, executive director, Westside Health Authority

Len was the director of Circle Health Care Center and board chair of the Westside Health Authority. Reed reflected on the events of the day and on Sharber: “So many times we look at the people who are always at the front of the line, always screaming, always shouting, but you know there also is something called quiet strength in our community. Len Sharber was that kind of guy… a straight-up good guy.”

Honoree: Ed Bailey/presenter Greg Livingston, pastor of Mandell United Methodist Church

Bailey was the founder and lifetime president of the South Austin Coalition. Dedicated to his family, friends and faith. Bailey, who died November 20, 2005, was known as an avid reader, and considered reading his favorite pastime. Livingston, whose church Bailey was a member, remarked: “There is nothing like honoring your own. When our children see us honoring ourselves, then they begin to honor themselves… If I honor you, that means I’m going to get up on Saturday morning come out and do something that said ‘I love you, I care about you, I thank you, I appreciate you, I miss you’ – that’s honoring somebody.” Bailey’s daughter Stephanie and son-in-law Curtis McClain were moved to tears as Rev. Livingston made the presentation.