When longtime Melrose Park resident Irene Gillogly passed away on January 6th, 2016, she left behind a legacy of two amazing sons, a life of service to her community, a helping hand to students looking to start careers in the auto industry, and some truly amazing adventures. Having lived to 105, Ms. Gillogly was fortunate enough to see an experience quite a bit in her lifetime!
After Ms. Gillogly’s passing, Lincoln Tech in Melrose Park, IL received some unexpected news – she had generously left part of her estate to the school as a scholarship fund for Automotive Technology students. As Campus President Karen Clark learned more about the school’s benefactor, she uncovered a life story that was fascinating and inspiring.
Ms. Gillogly wanted to help students interested in cars because her own two sons had a passion for repairing, rebuilding and modifying them. “My brother and I were always working on cars, rebuilding and maintaining them,” says Ross, who now lives in San Diego. “My mother allowed us full reign in our garage – she could attest to our love for cars, plus the messes we made. She rarely complained, though!”
Irene Gillogly was born in Minnesota on October 12, 1910. The middle child of nine, she left school in order to help her sister raise her family in South Dakota. Once she felt her job was done there, she then moved to Chicago and soon opened her own beauty parlor. One of her frequent customers was none other than Al Capone! She provided manicure services to Capone, who was, in her words, a “real gentleman.”
At one point in her life, Ms. Gillogly sang on a Lutheran radio show that ran prior to the Lawrence Welk Show. She became friendly with Welk and had the opportunity to get to know him. Welk would often invite her to dance to the music of his orchestra during the airing of his show. She also had an adventurous streak that led her to learn how to fly under the piloting of Orville and Wilbur Wright!
While she was settled in Chicago with her beauty shop, she met her future husband, Harold and they married on New Year’s Day in 1937. Irene and Harold had two sons, Ross and Bruce. Sadly, while preparing to move to Melrose Park for the kids to attend Walther Lutheran High School, Harold passed away. Ms. Gillogly raised her two sons in Melrose Park and she was an active member of St. Paul Lutheran Church. She was a fundraiser for the church as well as a volunteer for Westlake Hospital for 40 years.
Lincoln Tech is honored to have been considered in the will and final wishes of such an inspiring member of the Melrose Park community, and we extend best wishes to Ross, Bruce and their families as we approach the one-year anniversary of this remarkable individual’s passing.