LEGACY OF HOPE
By Mitch Hurst
By Mitch Hurst
DESPITE SPENDING 11 of his first 17 years in three different orphanages, the late Charles H. Walsh (also known as Chuck) described his childhood as a happy one. The Lake Forest resident went on to great success as a businessman, eventually joining Jerry Reinsdorf as a partner in the Chicago Bulls and Chicago White Sox sports teams, but never forgot the people who helped raised him.
His support of the last orphanage where he resided, Maryville Academy in Des Plaines, continued throughout his life. And on December 18, Maryville unveiled a new school named in his honor.
Aimed to help children with special learning needs, the Charles H. Walsh Sr. Academy & Career Tech High School (Walsh Academy) is a testament to Walsh and his widow Janie’s commitment to giving back to those who helped him during his youth.
“Chuck was a friend and mentor to many and was known by all for his gentle modesty. His childhood days at Maryville never left him, and he continued to support Maryville until the end,” Janie says. “He never forgot who he was and how he grew up. Very few people were like him. He was a true gem, kind to everybody at every level of life, regardless of where you were in life.”
His was a great American success story.
After earning a bachelor’s degree at Northwestern University on the G.I. Bill (serving both in the National Guard and in the Army during the Korean War), Chuck went on to became founder and chairman of the Title Company of America; managing partner of Walsh Partners, a real estate development firm; principal of Walsh & Gahlberg Real Estate Group Inc.; and a principal of Walsh & Reynolds Financial Group, a financial planning firm. He was also a former chairman of Elmhurst Memorial Hospital, former chairman of Elmhurst Savings and Loan, and chairman of Maryville Academy.
Walsh Academy will build on Maryville’s former Jen School’s founding vision as an alternative pathway for special education students who are unable to succeed in their home schools. It follows a student-directed pace in a safe and nurturing environment with a classroom setting of no more than 10 students.
Located at 6935 West Touhy in Niles, the school offers students ages 14 to 22 a curriculum that combines academic courses and emotional learning with enhanced career technical education (CTE) programs. It features 56,000 square feet of learning space, with 12 academic classrooms and eight for vocational learning.
Walsh Academy’s current vocational classes focus on carpentry, small engines, bicycle repairs, screen printing, health careers, video podcasting, computer technologies, and culinary arts. The school also plans to add classes for welding, plumbing, HVAC, electric, and agriculture in the future.
“We are incredibly honored to be a part of this amazing academic program that will give teens with learning differences a vision and a vocational skill to make them successful working adults,” says Janie Walsh. “I know that my husband would be thrilled that we are giving back to the institution that served him so well and gave him confidence, encouragement, and a vocational skill to go on and lead a successful life.”