By Maureen Callahan & Valerie Hardy

Dr. Kevin Russell visits a kindergarten classroom at Lester School.

Dr. Kevin Russell
September 2019 Edition

District 58 has made some significant accomplishments over the last few years, largely due to the leadership of Superintendent Dr. Kevin Russell.

Featured in the premiere issue of Downers Grove Magazine – and his first few months on the job – Dr. Russell has guided the district through some extensive accomplishments, including a Strategic Plan review and launch (Fall 2023), implementing full-day kindergarten (Fall 2023) and the two-way dual language program (Fall 2022), updating or replacing eight school playgrounds (2021-2023), partnering with the Village of Downers Grove on a New Civic Center to house administrative staff, and creating a systematic process to review curriculum resources.

In November 2022, a $179 million referendum with 67% of the vote was successfully passed. “These accomplishments were all centered on what’s best for students balanced with keeping to our mission to be fiscally responsible to taxpayers,” said Dr. Russell.

The Barnhart House is featured in the 2024 FOEH annual calendar.

Friends of the Edwards House
March 2020 Edition

Some of our town’s most obvious charm is found in its historic buildings.

Friends of the Edwards House (FOEH), Downers Grove’s local landmarking society, continues its work in historic home preservation.

Currently, there are two homes that have completed the application process and are waiting for approval. A third, the William S Barnhart House, 5408 Carpenter, was landmarked in December.

FOEH continues to hold events relevant to Downers Grove history and is always open to new volunteers.

The FOEH annual calendar, which features several historically landmarked homes in town, is for sale at Anderson’s Book Store or also on the organization’s website:

Candice Richmond and Amber Quirk attend a breast cancer retreat together.

Lauren Loeb, Amber Quirk, and Candice Richmond
November 2020 Edition

When these three “breast friends” were featured, they were using what they learned through their own breast cancer journeys to support other local women diagnosed with breast cancer.

Though Lauren Loeb recently moved to Atlanta, the trio still spread their support whenever possible. In 2021, Loeb hosted a large health-focused fundraiser, which raised over $18,000 for Breast Cancer Research Foundation to commemorate being five years cancer-free.

Richmond recently attended the Pink Agenda fundraiser for breast cancer research, and Quirk plans to help coordinate a Partners for Pink golf outing and continue supporting the Clear Ribbon Foundation, a local nonprofit for widows and widowers who have lost their spouses to cancer. All three women are beyond grateful to report their follow-up scans continue to show no evidence of cancer!

Josh Merrilland students photographed at a workshop
at The Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah.

Josh Merrill
March 2021 Edition

Josh Merrill continues to chase new scenery to photograph around the globe while teaching others how to see things through a similar lens.

Beyond leading workshops and exhibiting at fine arts festivals, Merrill continues to find joy in new adventures and pushing himself to try new things, such as swimming in frigid Lake Superior ice caves while photographing scenes above and below the surface.

Last fall, he chased exceptional fall colors in the hardwood forests of Maine and amid the Aspen Groves of Colorado.

Tag along with Downers Grove Fine Arts Festival’s 2023 Best in Show winner on one of his new workshops in the Faroe Islands in January or Iceland in February.

To check out his work or learn about upcoming workshops, visit

Comedian Kevin Bozeman continues to entertain audiences near and far.

Kevin Bozeman
September 2021 Edition

Comedian Kevin Bozeman has been keeping the laughs coming!

Since we last featured him, he has had two comedy albums released.

The first album is “Black Superman,” and the other is his comedy special, “God’s Work,” released this past summer on Helium Comedy Studios on YouTube. Both albums can be streamed on Spotify.

Bozeman was also featured on “Comics Unleashed with Byron Allen” on CBS and is a featured performer on Canadian CBC Television’s “Halifax ComedyFest.”

Bozeman looks forward to continuing to perform comedy locally and throughout North America in the year ahead.

World-class athlete Kendall Gretsch continues her Nordic skiing training.

Kendall Gretsch
November 2021 Edition

The Downers Grove native and Olympic gold medalist swept into first place in the final seconds of the Tokyo 2020 summer Paralympic triathlon – and into Olympic history forever!

This winter finds the world-class athlete training for and competing in her other love – Nordic skiing.

She also keeps up her cross-training, however, as she qualified for the Paris 2024 summer games!

USA’s Paralympic team has plans to attend a triathlon training camp in Vichy, southeast of Paris, in the weeks leading up to the games to adjust to the time zone and have the opportunity to train with their French competitors.

Downers Grove Magazine wishes Gretsch Godspeed!

Jo Shaw’s story of being an Army nurse and a mother of five resonated with our readers.

Jo Shaw
November 2021 Edition

Profiled a few years ago, Jo Shaw is the 101-year-old WWII nurse and widowed wife of Purple Heart POW Elwood Shaw.

She’s had two big birthdays since then, which were well-celebrated by her five children and many grand and great-grandchildren, whom she still checks on often.

This Downers Grove centurion is still in her same home of 66 years. It was built in 1922 – the year she was born. Dementia claims parts – but not all – of her days.

She laughs a lot while going through her daily routine with her caregivers and neighbors, who are like another family that constantly check on her and include her in their lives.

She’s still healthy, living equally in the moment and a century of great memories.

Check out Muriel Anderson’s new album, Sailing Dreams, and her recently released board game of the same name.

Muriel Anderson
March 2022 Edition

Downers Grove native Muriel Anderson is still based in Nashville.

But she and sidekick Capt’n Bryan made it back to town in November for their annual Saturday After Thanksgiving Concert, now a holiday tradition for many Downers Grovers.

It was an evening of fantastic acoustic music and stories.

The duo recently released Sailing Dreams, their new album inspired by time spent sailing up the east coast from Long Island to Penobscot Bay, Maine.

Be sure to check out their recently released board game of the same name, in which players travel the East Coast through experiences like catching lobster and learning sailor’s knots.

Actual shells from featured beaches and sand are included!

Amy Liss visits with members of the U.S. Deaf Women’s National Soccer Team.

Amy Liss
July 2022 Edition

Amy Liss was still feeling the isolating effects of the pandemic when we last caught up with her.

Now, she is back to a full schedule of spreading her message of gratitude, positivity, and service.

This past summer, she spoke – through interpreters – to the U.S. Deaf Women’s National Soccer Team and served on the staff for the Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy for the 10th year.

Liss returned to weekly volunteering at Hillcrest Elementary School as well.

This year, Liss plans to step out of her comfort zone as she and her family begin to search for long-term caregivers for her future.

She will balance this with escaping to Arizona this winter, watching friends play collegiate and professional sports, and spending quality time with her beloved nieces and nephew.

Of course, Liss will also continue to embody her motto: “Live Each Day with an Attitude of Gratitude!”

Mark Harris (middle), along
with two friends, competes in the Missouri River 340.

Mark Harris
November 2022 Edition

Mark Harris had completed a marathon in each of the 50 states when last featured.

Since then, he has hung up his running shoes but is still seeking active challenges.

He canoed in the Missouri River 340 (a 340-mile race from Kansas City to St. Louis) in August with his friend from Downers Grove, Chris Erickson, and a childhood friend from Sandwich, Illinois, Dave Vick.

“We made it 170 miles (to Columbia) before severe weather canceled the remaining part of the race,” Harris said.

“It was much more difficult than I anticipated, but a great challenge!”

Harris is also considering taking up biking.