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Gym At Willye B. White Park Dedicated To Early Neighborhood Philanthropist

By  Linze Rice and David Matthews | September 11, 2015 8:42am | Updated on September 15, 2015 8:23am

 The Willye B. White Park Field House was built in part from a donation given by William Boone from his Seabury Foundation.
The Willye B. White Park Field House was built in part from a donation given by William Boone from his Seabury Foundation.
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ROGERS PARK— Chicago Park District officials unanimously approved a request to name the gymnasium at the Willye B. White Park Field House in honor of a community activist and writer who helped bring the park to fruition, D. William "Bill" Boone.

Bryan Traubert, president of the Park District board, heard from members of the community as well as residents who serve on the park's advisory council about the special meaning the neighborhood held for Boone, who gave $500,000 from his family's Seabury Foundation to ensure the park's field house was built in 2004. Boone died in 2005.

"We heard from good community folks about how important it is to do this," Traubert said during a Park District board meeting.

Boyd McDowell, director of the Seabury Foundation, said Boone touched the lives of many during his time in the neighborhood and wished he could have seen the fruits of his labors.

"Unfortunately, Bill did not live to see the building completed, but the would be extremely proud," McDowell said. "Naming the gym in his memory would be such a great reminder of how his efforts bought such great results to the neighborhood project."

Eva McCann, a longtime Rogers Park resident and community organizer who is also on the park's advisory council, was there Wednesday in support of the naming, saying that "in the name of Bill Boone we would like to thank you for bestowing this honor."

"Mr. Boone’s contributions extend beyond well beyond our building to the entire Rogers Park community," she said.

Willye B. White Park, 1610 W. Howard St., is one of Rogers Park's northernmost play areas and is situated between a busy stretch of Howard, residential buildings and Gale Elementary School, and has undergone renovations in recent years, including new playground equipment.

In June, signs were put up near the park and kept there for 45 days while community members had an opportunity to learn about the effort to dedicate the gym and weigh in. Ultimately, the push received the support of Ald. Joe Moore (49th), the park's advisory council, local residents and acting members of the Boone family-affiliated Seabury Foundation.

Boone was born in the North Shore, where he lived until attending college in New Mexico and joining the U.S. Marines and enrolling at the University of Illinois. He eventually made his way back to Chicago, were he settled in as a writer with an office near Clark and Howard in Rogers Park. He later moved on to Milwaukee, but not before making a lasting impression on the Far North Side neighborhood.

He stayed active with the charitable Seabury Foundation, which doled about about half a million in funds to Rogers Park each year, helping to support a number of nonprofit agencies in the neighborhood, including Howard Area Community Center, Family Matters, A Just Harvest, Housing Opportunities for Women, and Gale Elementary School.

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