Interview with Jan Conkright
Eighty-five years ago, in 1932, the Library was built in memory of Thomas Albert Ford. In our latest edition of The Ford Member Connection, we speak with his great-granddaughter Jan Conkright.
For most Library members, Thomas Ford is a place; for you, he’s also family. Can you tell us the connection?
My father was John Ford, and Thomas was his grandfather. My dad was born in 1929 and Thomas died in 1928, so they never met.
54 members of the Thomas Ford Family had a reunion at the Thomas Ford Memorial Library in 2015. Four generations were present. Please tell us more about your extended family and the reunion.
It was a great spot for all of us to meet, as we have family from California, Michigan, Iowa, and Georgia. The family that got together was Newell’s children and grandchildren (Newell was Thomas’s son). We had lunch in the great room near the children’s library, and then family that had not been there in many years had a tour of the facilities led by Anne Kozak. After that, we walked over to the Water Tower for a tour. My family stayed at the Lodge in Oak Brook on the McDonald campus, and my Aunt Sally and Terry Malone hosted a wonderful dinner there- it was a spectacular night being all together.
You and other family members helped us put together a Flickr photo album after the reunion. Could you tell us what your relatives have to say about Thomas and Edith, and the Library?
So impressed on all the paperwork you have about them in the folders, we could have stayed for hours looking it all over. Very informative. My two aunts and uncle- Nane, Sally and Tom- were there and really liked all the improvements. Two of them haven’t been there since the improvements in 1996 and were impressed with the stone work and how well it matched!
How long have you and your husband, Dick, lived in Western Springs? Give us a little background on your own family and how you use the Library.
We have lived in Western Springs for 16 years. My husband is so glad the library has such a large selection of large print books, and we love to watch the movies. The selections are great. My grandson Jack, who is 7, comes to visit and we come to look at children’s books, and he likes to play in the mini tower with the puppets! He gives me my own personal puppet show.
If your great grandparents could visit the Library today, what do you think they’d say?
I think they would be very impressed on all the options that the library offers. In their day it was just books, now it’s so such more: computers, movies, video games, and the events you have after hours on Fridays, and so much more.
To learn more about the Ford family, visit Library History on our website, or stop by the Reference Desk.
“The Ford Member Connection” spotlights Western Springs residents with interesting stories and relationships to the Library. Please let us know whom you’d like to read about.