I read on Wednesday that long time Tinley Park mayor Ed Zabrocki was stepping down effective June 1st due to health issues. I was saddened to hear that I knew Mr. Zabrocki personally because for my four years at Brother Rice High School in the early 1990’s he was my guidance counselor.
I don’t want this to sound like an obituary but I want people to know Mr. Zabrocki was more than just a south suburban politician. Obviously by Tinley’s incredible growth in his 34 years of service he did a great job.
Now I know high school guidance counselor is a job that gets a lot of jokes and may not be taken seriously but Mr. Zabrocki took the job seriously without taking himself really seriously. Also be aware his fellow guidance counselor was the late, great varsity football coach Tom Mitchell. Coach Mitchell was simply known as “Coach” as was legendary on the field and we worshiped him off the field but he too was humble man. But Mr. Zabrocki shared the guidance office with Coach and never seemed envious of the attention and honor everyone gave him.
I admit we all wanted Coach as our guidance counselor and initially getting Mr. Zabrocki might seem like second place but his office quickly became comfortable. I remember one of our first conversations and he saw on my record I was from West Pullman and I lived near old Gulfport Restaurant on 124th & Ashland. This was my favorite place to eat and I’ll be honest Mr. Zobrocki liked to eat too.
What became clear to me right way about Mr. Zabrocki is that he loved the south suburbs and knew them like that back of his hand. He didn’t brag that he was the mayor of Tinley Park but his knowledge of all the areas showed he was familiar with his neighboring towns. He knew the good places to eat and had a great knowledge of the “lay of the land”.
I mean just think how Tinley Park grew in the 34 years he governed it and true it was not without some newspaper material but largely not only did Mr. Zabrocki avoid the spotlight but his town was on the straight and narrow too.
He was even tempered, quiet even but when he spoke you listened. Even better he listened to you, he’d look right at you and was sincere. Remember I was in high school and thought I knew everything and he had the patience to take in what I had to say and then give back sound advice. I never would have been accepted into DePaul University without him. Never would have visited St Joe’s College in Rensselaer Indiana, even though it wasn’t my kind of school, he suggested it anyway and it was a good visit.
Mr. Zabrocki’s greatest legacy is two fold, its the leadership he gave Tinley Park but its also the many men he helped mold and guide at Brother Rice, from fellow mayors to regular every day dudes. The motto at Brother Rice is “Act Manly In Christ Jesus” and we all got a step closer to that with the guidance of Mr. Zabrocki.
I simply wanted to tell another side of this great man and say it while he is still with us. I wish him well in his retirement and in his medical treatment. I have walked down that road with many relatives and I know he will do fine because he did more than fine by so many of us.
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Filed under: Chicago