The Chamber is pleased to announce the three winners of the seventh annual Business Awards, which highlights excellence in the Northbrook business community. The Corporate Citizen of the Year is recognized for promoting a spirit of giving and community involvement; the Small Business of the Year is honored for excellent business practices and the Volunteer of the Year is selected for consistently helping the Chamber achieve its goals. The businesses will be formally honored at the Annual Meeting and Dinner on Wednesday, February 27th at the Renaissance Hotel. The two business award winners will receive plaques along with a $500 donation to be given to the charity of their choice. The Volunteer award winner receives a $200 honorarium.
Trudy Welker, Volunteer of the Year
A tireless volunteer for many of the Chamber’s most important fundraisers over the past decade, Trudy Welker is the recipient of the Volunteer of the Year award. A longtime resident of Northbrook and a member of the Chamber since 2002, Trudy suddenly and unexpectedly passed away in November, 2012. She is being honored posthumously.
Whether hanging up posters for the Chamber’s annual Golf Outing, coaxing golfers out of a few dollars to buy raffle tickets, tracking down donations to support the Chamber’s Auction and Taste, or just lending her enthusiasm to the planning process, Trudy Welker will always be remembered as one of the Chamber’s most likeable, dependable volunteers. “Every time the Chamber needed her she was happy to do the task at hand, and she did it cheerfully,” recalls fellow Chamber volunteer Lise Schleicher, who often worked alongside Trudy at the Auction and Taste.
“Trudy gave a great deal of her time and energy to the Chamber,” adds Jeanine Rippel, who served for many years as Chair of the Chamber’s Auction and Taste Volunteer committee. She adds, “Working with Trudy was always a pleasure. With so many tasks to manage, I appreciated how reliable and dependable she was and how dedicated she was to the Chamber’s goals.”
Trudy’s legacy of helping others dates back to her days as an Office Assistant at Glenbrook North High School. Beginning in 1975, she worked in the Foreign Language Department and later the Dean’s Office. Her son Don Pollack recalls that she enjoyed interacting with everyone and was a generous humanitarian for several generations of high school students. “She often reached out to students that others would label as ‘problem kids,’” he remembers.
As she was winding down her 23 year career at the high school Trudy launched her aromatherapy career and became a certified aromatherapist. She was known for her research on the use of oils for long term care patients and wrote a manual for aromatherapy treatments for use in nursing homes. She also developed protocols for relaxation programs, insomnia, repetitive behaviors by the developmentally challenged and certain syndromes affecting dementia patients. The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy credited Trudy as an aromatherapy pioneer for these efforts.
Her children recall that Trudy was an avid reader and considered herself a lifelong learner. Trudy was multi-lingual and spoke Polish, Serbo-Croatian, some French and knew Latin. One of Trudy’s neighbors was a scientist from Russia who frequently traveled, leaving her elderly mother home alone. Knowing the woman only spoke Russian, Trudy would converse with her in a dialect similar to her native language, taught her how to use the computer, and to “Skype” with her daughter.
Trudy was also involved with the arts all of her life, volunteering at the North Shore Art League in Winnetka where she helped organize the studio drawing classes. She also enjoyed playing piano all of her life and took lessons from a concert pianist. She recently performed a classical Chopin piano piece in a recital.
Trudy is survived by her six children and their families who will donate her $200 gift to the Northbrook Public Library.