NEWS & VIEWS OF PHILLIPS SINCE 1976
Tuesday September 19th 2017

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Corrine Zala, longtime Phillips Resident, Housing Facilitator and Coach, Comedienne, Cook, and Preservationist

Corrine Zala, b. February 14, 1955 died April 26th, 2017 pictured here with “Les Walstein, my very best friend.”

BY SUE HUNTER WEIR, JANA METGE, DONNA NESTEA, and David PIEHL

Corrine Zala. A name known by so many families in this neighborhood.  We met Corrine because she sold us our homes, many our first homes. She negotiated through the stacks of paperwork which none of us understood. For years she ran the ‘Neighbors Helping Neighbors’ program out of Abbott Northwestern Hospital – a grant program for down payment assistance and for home improvements. Abbott Northwestern, being a partner and helping the Neighborhood which surrounds it.

Corrine knew that some of her first-time home buyers needed support not only to guide them through the process of purchasing a home but to help them maintain the properties that they had worked so hard to own. Long after the papers were signed and the deals were sealed she visited her clients to make sure that they had everything they needed to keep their homes in good shape.

Then there was saving our homes from MCDA tearing them down. Corrine was known to block bulldozers from demolishing perfectly structurally sound homes.  This activism led to many policy changes.

Then there was Historic Preservation. In Central Neighborhood she helped secure resources to move homes rather than demolish them during a Park Expansion project.  She purchased a home north of the Historic Healy block on 2nd Ave and 31st Street and worked to save her home and those adjacent to hers.

In the fall of 2007 she was the guiding force in the effort to save Olivet Church which was located at nest to the alley between Chicago and Columbus Avenues on East 26th Street.  Preservationists from the Phillips and Central neighborhoods made a valiant, though ultimately unsuccessful, effort to save the building from demolition.  Although we had hoped for a different outcome, that effort created long-lasting friendships and an on-going commitment to preserving beautiful buildings.

Corrine was a Neighborhood Champion.

Many of us have our decades in Phillips – thanks to Corrine Zala’s dedication to keep this neighborhood stable and affordable.

She also was a world-class cook and an amazing seamstress.  She rescued scores of stray and abandoned cats.  She was wise and funny (no one could tell jokes better than Corrine).  There will never be another Corrine Zala.

Thank you.

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