Oak Brook woman looks to the past while planning the future
Kathy Maher, president of the Oak Brook Historical Society, standd near a bookcase at the Oak Brook Heritage Center. | Chuck Fieldman—Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 15, 2013 2:10AM
OAK BROOK — Kathy Maher grew up on a farm in Oklahoma, but has made Oak Brook her home or the past 40 years. Maher and her husband raised six children and have 11 grandchildren. A former PTA president in Butler Elementary District 53 and den mother for Boy Scouts, Maher also was involved with the Hinsdale Central PTO, is a longtime member of the Oak Brook Women’s Club and a member of the village’s Citizens Polo Committee. She has been president of the Oak Brook Historical Society since 2006.
Q. Why did you decide to become involved with the Oak Brook Historical Society?
A. I have a tremendous passion for history. By studying history, you learn how to deal with the future.
Q. Your interest in history seems to be focused on Oak Brook, rather than something bigger, such as American or world history. Why is that?
A. I have great respect for all kinds of history, but I love local history. I love the grassroots aspect of it. I love people. I’m curious to know how the village came to be what it is, and what makes it interesting for me is the stories. I love when people bring in local artifacts, but it’s the stories behind them that really make it interesting.
Q. What’s behind your interest in polo?
A. It’s so much a part of Oak Brook’s history. I think it’s something anyone can enjoy. There’s the social aspect and the sport itself.
Q. The Oak Brook Heritage Center has been undergoing a restoration. What is your vision for it?
A. We started the restoration after leasing the building (at 1112 Oak Brook Road) from the village in 2009. We want to have exhibits here and for this to be a place where people come and learn about history. I’d love to have the school children in Oak Brook come here for field trips so they can learn about Oak Brook’s history.
Q. What other aspects of history interest you?
A. I love genealogy. It’s fascinating to learn about my family. I think everyone has an interest in learning about their families and where they came from. We do quite a bit of that here.
Q. You have spent a lot of time in Oak Brook over the years as a volunteer for many different organizations. Has your volunteer work been limited to the village?
A. No, I am very active in my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Woodridge.
Q. What would you want people to remember about you 50 or 100 years from now?
A. I would hope they would think I was a dedicated wife and mother, first of all. Also, a productive member of my community and someone who had a passion for people and loved life.