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One of the few perks about working in media is that you get nice tributes when you pass away. In movies and television, maybe your name is mentioned in the closing credits. In newspapers, there is the obituary.

It is with great sadness and heavy hearts that we report the loss of one of our own. Mark Perry, 50, was a designer, one of the creative production types who build the newspaper pages. Within the confines of the advertising already placed on pages, designers determine the size and placement of stories and pictures on the page, choose type styles and lend their creative expertise to the production process.

Mark, a lifelong Naperville resident, died Saturday after a short bout with colon cancer. His colleagues at The Sun are shocked and saddened by the quickness of his passing . He was at work just two weeks ago, having returned from vacation, looking thinner, and that typical good-natured attitude of his was missing. By the time the cancer was diagnosed, it was too late.

His wife, the former Lois Michel, worked at The Sun in the old days, down on Jackson Avenue, for Harold White, as an entertainment reporter. Our thoughts and prayers are with her, and the rest of Mark's family, during this time of incredible sadness.

Life is precious, and much too short.

The Washington Post this week did a nice piece about how my late father helped beat the Russians in the space race:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/25/AR2008062502643.html

There's a video, too, from one of the old 8 mm cameras he used to shoot our home movies with.

--Ted Slowik

Journalism lost a legend today with the passing of Tim Russert, 58, host of NBS'c "Meet the Press" since 1991. I met the man in 2006 at North Central College, during a book tour stop sponsored by Naperville's world-renowned Anderson's. He was down-to-earth and friendly, and it's a privilege to say my father's story is included in one of his books.

So, in honor of Father's Day, and in memory of a great man, here's a story I wrote two years ago when Tim Russert visited Naperville:

A legacy of love

By Ted Slowik
My father could fix anything. He could straighten a bent bicycle wheel, repair a window shattered by a baseball, even mend tattered relationships.

It's a tremendous honor for my father, Jozef Slowik, to appear in Tim Russert's new book, "Wisdom of Our Fathers." But it's no surprise, given the subject matter. Russert, host of NBC's "Meet the Press," will talk about the book and sign copies tonight at North Central College.

My sister, Jeanne Moran of Aledo, read Russert's 2004 book, "Big Russ & Me," and responded to the request for readers to submit stories about their fathers. More than 60,000 stories were submitted; only 175 were chosen.

Our father was a mechanical engineer. During the 1960s he worked for the Illinois Institute of Technology Research Institute, where he designed and built androids NASA used to test spacesuits. One of the androids is on display at the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

He invented the surgical stapler, a device still widely used by doctors.

He was a brilliant problem-solver, but to his 12 kids he was simply Dad.

"I had a dad who read to me when Mom was too tired to think, a dad who knew when he walked in the door after a long day at work that Mom had had a tougher day at home, feeding and raising 12 children," my sister's story reads.

In a few weeks, we will experience the first Father's Day without our father. He died of leukemia March 5 at age 84.

"At least he got to read it before he died," my sister said of the story she submitted.

Her story is featured in a section about discipline. She wrote about how one punishment consisted of cracking walnuts. Those who misbehaved in church had to kneel on the gravel driveway.

"If two of us were fighting, we had to stand in the kitchen, each in a separate square on the tile floor far enough apart so we couldn't reach each other, and think of three nice things to say about the other person," she wrote.

Many of the book's stories are about large Catholic families, and the stories resonate with familiarity.

"I had a dad who sacrificed so that all of his children could attend Catholic schools. On Saturday nights, he used to line up our polished shoes so they would be ready for church on Sunday," my sister wrote.

We grew up in Countryside, near La Grange. Most of us still live in the area, including our brother, Paul, who lives in Naperville and owns Bud's Concrete. Our sister, Jo Marie, is married to Mark Robbins, who was a lieutenant with the Naperville Police Department before he retired and who now teaches criminal justice at Minnesota State University in Mankato.

The storytellers in Russert's book were not paid, though each writer did receive an autographed copy of the book.

I miss my dad, his wisdom and his ability to lead by example. I try to be like him, and I try to emulate how he could bring people together and mediate disputes.

My sister is No. 11, and I'm the youngest. I love my sister, but once, as a kid, I pushed her down a flight of stairs.

"The greatest legacy that Dad has left behind is that his children get along so well as adults," she wrote. "With all the sibling rivalry that existed as we were growing up, we still manage to get together often during the year, and we actually like one another. Dad taught us to care. In the long run, what more can a father do?"

Gov. Rod Blagojevich has announced that NIU's Cole Hall - the scene of the horrific campus massacre - will be demolished and, ultimately, be replaced with another classroom building to be called Memorial Hall. To our knowledge, this is the first time the scene of a campus or high school tragedy like this has resulted in the destruction of a building. While we're not disputing the sincerity of the governor's proposal, the question must be asked: Is it a wise decision? First of all, would a lengthy demolition and then construction process serve only to prolong the lingering pain and dark memories for the students and faculty of NIU and, secondly, is it a wise fiscal decision in a cash-strapped state dealing with tough economic times? And just think, everyone who eventually walks into that new building will know exactly why it exists and how it got its name. Do we want that as a permanent legacy for NIU? You be the judge.

We've got a host of personalities populating this corner of cyberspace. Who do you like, and why?

The results of The Sun's second-annual Most Famous Person from Naperville poll are in, and author Susan Elizabeth Phillips picks up this year's crown. We offered 12 nominees, but there were more names we could have included. Who did we leave out?

By Ted Slowik

OK, maybe the Pure Prairie League reference is too obscure, but it's appropriate. In a stunner, Amy Jacobson lost her job Tuesday as a TV reporter in Chicago because she was caught on tape, wearing a bathing suit, at the home of Craig Stebic.

Mike Myers was watching TV at home when he heard a crash, looked outside and discovered a car was sinking in the pond behind his home. He swam out to the car and pulled the 16-year-old driver to safety.

People magazine included Naperville Central alumna Candace Parker in this year's 100 Most Beautiful People list. But that's not the really big news.

With Gina Glocksen voted off "American Idol" and Nicole D'Ambrosio fired from "The Apprentice," we can start thinking about getting back to the days when Naperville didn't have a resident -- let alone two -- competing in a popular television show viewed by millions each week.

Naperville Potluck

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