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The former Catholic girls’ school where Lorraine Morton served as both alderman and mayor of the City of Evanston now bears her name. On Nov. 9 the Marywood Academy building was officially named the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center. Two other former mayors – Joan Barr and Jay Lytle – joined current Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl in thanking Ms. Morton for her service.
Mayor Tisdahl said, “We remember your legacy: Keep taxes down and build the City up. … You said once that you decided that you were going to enjoy whatever you were going to do. You brought that joy to all the rest of us, and that is why we love you so much.” She read aloud the Council agenda item for that night that approved repairs to the Civic Center that Ms. Morton had lobbied to save.
Mr. Lytle, who as mayor had appointed Ms. Morton – then principal of Haven Middle School – as alderman of the Fifth Ward when a vacancy arose, said, “I asked her to be an alderman because of her rapport with the parents and students and teachers at Haven. She was innovative and creative, and she had integrity.”
Mr. Lytle recounted that, when, as mayor, he was negotiating the purchase of the Marywood Academy building to be used as the City’s headquarters, he and the then-City Manager traveled to Indiana to discuss the price with the nuns whose order owned the building. After discussion, Mr. Lytle said, “The nuns said they would pray on the matter and let us know. Early the next morning I got a five-word telegram: ‘The Lord wants $50,000 more.’” He added, “I don’t know if I made a deal with the Lord or with the devil, because we split the difference.”
Saying, “You don’t get honors by yourself – you have help,” Ms. Morton thanked Mr. Lytle and Ms. Barr as “the ones who paved the way” and thanked the Evanston community for being “supportive over the years.” Having the Civic Center named for her, she said, “is an honor that does not fade away.” She added that she hoped her grandchildren would choose a life of service. She said, “If you don’t engage in a life of service, you’re just walking through the world.”