Streets renamed for Nitschke, Santo and Daniels
President Peter Silvestri, Trustees Alan Bennett and Angela Stranges join Teddy the EP Cubby Bear and Sherry Matarese, friend of the Santo family, in unveiling the Ron Santo Way on the block where he and his family lived. | Courtesy of Village of Elmwood Park
Updated: August 27, 2012 10:35AM
ELMWOOD PARK — Elmwood Park’s mayor and trustees have been busy adding a little history to the streets throughout the village.
Elmwood Park Mayor Peter Silvestri and several trustees dedicated three areas in the village to two well-known athletes and a fallen Marine.
On July 23, they dedicated the corner of 76th Avenue and Diversey Avenue to National Football Hall of Fame inductee Ray Nitschke, who played his entire career with the Green Bay Packers. He died in 1998.
Silvestri said they are not sure where, but they know that Nitschke lived in Elmwood Park at one time.
After posting Nitschke’s sign, the group moved on to the 1900 block of 75th Court to dedicate that street to another famous athlete — former Chicago Cubs baseball player Ron Santo.
Santo, who died in December 2010, was recently inducted into National Baseball Hall of Fame. He lived for a period of time on 75th Court, which will now be called Ron Santo Way.
Sherry and Linda Matarrese, who are sisters, remember Santo living in their home the first year he played for the Cubs.
“When he first came up with the Cubs, he stayed with our family,” Linda Matarreses said. “Then the following year he came back with his family as a rookie.”
Linda Matarrese, who flew in from California for the dedication, said she was 11 when Santo stayed with them.
“My mother welcomed him with open arms,” she said. “My first impression of him was sheer awe of someone who is famous.”
Both of their families were very close and she remembers Santo returning home after the Cubs won a game at Wrigley Field to children cheering outside their home.
She said Monday’s dedication was a fitting tribute.
“It was absolutely beautiful,” she said. “The mayor gave a beautiful speech and they also presented a second sign to be given Ron’s first wife, Judy Santos.”
“The same warmth he (Santo) showed to us he shared with his fans,” she said.
“It’s just another way to build pride in the community and recognize important people,” Silvestri said. “It’s nice way to recognize people and build community.”
On July 16 Silvestri and members of the village board, family and friends met at corner of 74th Court and Fullerton Avenue to dedicate the 2300 block of 74th Court in honor of Lance Cpl. Nickolas A. Daniels, 25, of Elmwood Park who died Nov. 5, 2011, while conducting combat operations in Afghanistan.
The section street, where he lived, will also be known as Honorary Lance Cpl. Nickolas Daniels Way.
His stepmother, Debi Daniels, said the family were thankful for the tribute.
“It’s a super honor,” she said. “Elmwood Park has been extremely giving to us.”
The Daniels often go through the alley to avoid traffic.
“Now we make it a point to go down Fullerton,” she said. “Now that they have it on our block, it’s a little nicer.”
Silvestri said there will be more street sign dedications in the future.
“We want to highlight notable citizens from our community,” he said. “They should be recognized for their contribution to society whether it be in defense of our country or bringing fame to our sports teams.”