Mary S. "Mimi" Ryan, long time Wilmette resident, public servant and devoted member of the League of Women Voters of Wilmette, passed away on January 1, 2013. Visitation will be held at Donnellan Funeral Home, 10045 Skokie Blvd, on Friday, January 4, from 3 to 8 p.m. Mass will be held on Saturday, January 5 at 10 a.m. at St. Francis Church, 524 9th Street in Wilmette.
Mimi spent 12 years in elected service, four as a member of the Wilmette Board of Park Commissioners and then eight years as a member of the Village of Wilmette Board of Trustees (1983-1991). As a Trustee, Mimi was an advocate for Wilmette's ban on the sale and possession of handguns. Upon the ban's approval by the Wilmette Village Board in 1989, she said "To prevent one accidental death or save one life in Wilmette makes this ordinance worth passing."
She also advocated for the inclusion of group homes for the mentally ill and developmentally disabled in all zoning districts in the Village of Wilmette. Mimi noted later that its passage "was a wonderful moment." Mimi's advocacy did not end with her elected service.
She spoke in favor of affordable housing at Mallinckrodt, and against the construction of a fence at Gillson Park that would restrict access to the beach.
In 2003, Mimi - along with Jean Cleland and Gail Schechter, accepted a Golden Trowel Award from Housing Action Illinois on behalf of Mixed Use for Mallinckrodt (MUM), a grassroots group of Wilmette residents which advocated for affordable housing at the 14-acre Mallinckrodt site. Mimi, Jean, the late Marvin Miller, Betty Jacobs, the Rev. Heather Van Deventer (then of St. Augustine's Episcopal Church) and others, including families with members who have disabilities, and current and former Village officials, created MUM as a "moral imperative" to reuse the historic building to address the "clear shortage of housing for lower-income seniors, younger families, singles who grew up in Wilmette, folks that work here and others," in Ryan's and Cleland's words.
Eventually, the Village of Wilmette gave its approval to an 81-unit senior condo redevelopment at the site, of which 11 units were affordable.
Open Communities will miss Mimi Ryan -- her moral voice, consistent principles, willingness to act, and above all, her warmth and compassion. She is a model to us all.
Courtesy of the League of Women Voters.