This article originally appeard in Brookfield Suburban Life.
Brookfield, IL — A Brookfield resident who started working at the Brookfield Historical Society more than a decade ago as a volunteer has won the 2009 Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award from the Illinois Humanities Council.
Kit Ketchmark received the award, a bronze plaque, at the Brookfield Village Board meeting on Dec. 14.
“You don’t set out to win an award,” Ketchmark said. “You help where you can, and I’m glad to be awarded for that.”
Brookfield President Mike Garvey said Ketchmark instantly came to mind when the nomination forms came out this year.
“I knew exactly who the person was,” Garvey said. “I nominated Kit for his tremendous volunteer work with the Brookfield Historical Society. Kit is the driving force behind maintaining the beautiful society building. If you think you have problems at your house, you can always find Kit in the summer fixing windows and making the society continue to exist.
“It’s something we all take for granted, but he keeps history alive,” Garvey said. “There are important village documents there that he maintains and keeps safe. The building and the society wouldn’t be there without the donation of his time and talent.”
The award has been given out by the Illinois Humanities Council since 1999. Forty-four recipients were selected by the mayors or presidents of their towns for their service to the humanities, said a representative from the council. Two Riverside residents, JoAnne Kosey and Joseph Ballerine, also received the award for their work to help Riverside save its Fourth of July parade tradition.
Ketchmark was one of the residents who fought to save the Grossdale Station at 8820 1/2 Brookfield Ave., where the historical society now stands, from the wrecking ball. The station opened as a museum in 1981, and Ketchmark became the director of the society in 1995.
“One of the longtime members of the society had come to our house because we were nominated for a preservation award because of our house,” Ketchmark said. “She told us about the society and my wife said we should get involved, and we did.”
Ketchmark said he has always been interested in history, and that he works hard at the society to preserve Brookfield’s history for future generations. He and his brother worked to recreate the gingerbread trim on the station to reproduce what was there 100 years ago, and Ketchmark leads tours throughout the year at the society.
The society is open to the public from May to September on the fourth Sunday of the month from 1-4 p.m., and there are monthly meetings on the fourth Friday of each month (excluding December) at 7:30 p.m. that the public is welcome to attend.
“We are all making history every day in some sort of way,” Ketchmark said. “I want to help future generations not only understand the past — why a school is named the way it is, why we have an 85-year-old fire truck, but to also help the future. We are all caretakers of the past, and I am glad to be recognized in helping preserve that past for others.”
Copyright 2009 Brookfield Suburban Life. Some rights reserved.