By Grace Kuikman
Among the many things I learned from Pat Stanton over the years he volunteered with me as a columnist – Rambling ‘Round and About — and proofreader for The Villager are how to correctly use an apostrophe and that even though he playfully called me “boss,” he was the real boss. Without Pat Stanton, BAPA would probably not be here today. It was an honor to know him.
On October 9, L. Patrick (Pat) Stanton passed away at the age of 97, leaving an outstanding legacy of commitment to family and to our community. Lucky for all of us, Pat often shared the origins of BAPA’s transformation from a quiet community group to a dynamic grassroots organization. Through a speech he called Beverly Now that he created and presented from the altar of Christ the King Church in 1971, Pat Stanton was the driver of that transformation. His story of Beverly Now can be found at bapa.org.
Several years before Beverly Now, Pat and his wife Lorraine, who passed away in 2019, moved their growing family to Beverly/Morgan Park in 1959. From day one, the Stantons loved their new neighborhood. Pat was enjoying a successful career in advertising and Lorraine ran a bustling household. The family was active with Christ the King Parish, Beverly Hills Tennis Club, Beverly Improvement Association, and other social, school and civic organizations.
In the mid-1960s when white flight was sweeping through South Side neighborhoods, North Beverly neighbors began expressing their concerns. “We would ask, what are you doing in the face of racial change?” Pat said in an interview when he and Lorraine were honored with BAPA’s Community Service Award in 2017. “But people didn’t like to talk about it. It upset people.” The Stantons knew integration was a subject that couldn’t be ignored.
Pat and Lorraine Stanton were involved with the Organization for Southwest Communities, where Black and white people talked about racial change, as well as the Beverly/Morgan Park Human Relations Council, which supported open housing and integration.
The climate of social activism of the late 1960s had begun to open doors for lay people to get more involved in the Catholic Church. The Community Relations Committee founded at Christ the King began organizing programs to fight the unscrupulous real estate tactics that fueled white flight. When the group recognized that a community-wide effort was needed to usher in integration, Pat Stanton offered to put together a proposal.
Using his background in advertising, he created Beverly Now: A campaign that called for a positive plan for racial integration that would equalize the real estate market for black and white buyers, foster community pride, boost local schools and businesses and promote Beverly/Morgan Park as a great place to live.
Pat presented Beverly Now at all of the Christ the King masses on the weekend of July 11 and 12, 1971. “Everyone at mass applauded, which never happened back then.” Pat said in the 2017 interview, adding that “People wanted to hear this.”
Pat brought his presentation to other community groups and churches, garnering support. With the approval of parishioners, Christ the King church pledged $15,000 in funding for Beverly Now. An umbrella community organization would be needed to accomplish the goals set forth in the plan. Pat Stanton pointed out that a community wide organization was already in place: the Beverly Area Planning Association. At the time, BAPA focused mainly on zoning and beautification issues. The decision was made to reorganize BAPA into a broad-based association with a professional staff, board of directors and open committees. Since 1971, BAPA has been focused on programs that foster diversity and support the components of a quality community: schools, housing, safety and communication.
“That brief period of less than three weeks in the summer of 1971 was truly a rebirth for BAPA,” Pat wrote in his Rambling ‘Round and About column for The Villager.
Pat never stopped being a community activist and resource for understanding the important but imperfect history of Beverly Now facilitated our community’s 50+ years of integration. He served on the BAPA board for many years, and also served many years on the Beverly Arts Center board and the board of Southwest Chicago PADS.
Pat was a U.S. Navy veteran and earned a business degree from Notre Dame University. After a 20+ year career in advertising, he followed his passion for education and accepted a position at Chicago State University in 1972, serving first as an administrator, then on the faculty, and finally as acting dean of the business school.
Over the years, generations of Pat Stanton’s family have followed in their patriarch’s footsteps in supporting BAPA and our community. Larry Stanton is a former BAPA executive director. Mike Stanton is a former BAPA President and longtime chair of the Development Committee and was at the helm of the BAC Challenge fundraising campaign at the Beverly Arts Center. Patrick Stanton was a longtime member of the Beverly Arts Center board. Mary Stanton Corrigan and her husband Jim Corrigan supported BAPA with a generous grant for school programs. All of the Stanton children and grandchildren have supported BAPA as generous donors, and several have opened their homes for BAPA’s annual Home Tour. Grandson Brian Wilson not only offered his house for the Home Tour, but he also served as member of the BAPA board.
Our deepest sympathy and gratitude go out to the entire Stanton family.