Gloria Jean Garofalo (nee Prochazka), 76, of Oak Park died on July 11, 2020. Born on Oct. 30, 1943, Gloria grew up in Westlake, Ohio before spending two years at Miami University and later becoming a stewardess in the 1960s for United Airlines in Chicago. There she met John, her husband of 54 years, and raised their family in John’s hometown of Oak Park. She was an assistant teacher at Emerson (now Gwendolyn Brooks) Junior High School in Oak Park and assistant director of individual giving at Brookfield Zoo. With the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust, she started as a volunteer but later acted as the tour center director, director of public programs, and eventually director of development before her retirement.
“I think she was probably one of the biggest cheerleaders Oak Park and the organization ever had,” said Joan Mercuri, former Wright Trust CEO and board member.
“She was always, always looking out for the volunteers and trying to make sure they had a good time,” said Jack Lesniak, architect and FLW founding board member. “She meant a lot to the volunteers.”
Gloria was an active member of the community, volunteering with the Whittier School PTO, Campfire Girls of Oak Park, president and secretary of the Oak Park Day Nursery Board, volunteer at the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust, and board member of the Ernest Hemingway Foundation. She was a longtime member of the women’s philanthropic group PEO.
“She was a force to be reckoned with,” said J.T. Garofalo. “She was full of energy, very vivacious. Her life impacted a lot of people.”
Gloria Garofalo was the wife of John R. Garofalo; the mother of Christine (Eric) Lussow and J.T. (Arthur Thompson) Garofalo; grandma of Tyler and Cade Lussow; sister of Gus (Joanne) Prochazka; sister-in-law Ronald (Gerry), James (Sandi) and the late Mauro (Carol) Garofalo; and the aunt and great-aunt of many. She will be greatly missed.
Services are private. A Memorial Service will be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made online or by mail to the PEO Foundation (a program for continuing education) in memory of Gloria and her local Chapter BI/IL by visiting the PEO International website at: https://donations.peointernational.org/peo-donation-pce.
Arrangements were handled by Drechsler, Brown & Williams Funeral Home.