Joan Buschbach retired from the Oak Lawn Library Board after more than three decades as a trustee. (Photos by Kelly White)

Joan Buschbach retired from the Oak Lawn Library Board after more than three decades as a trustee. (Photos by Kelly White)

Joan Buschbach retires after 30 years on the Oak Lawn Library board 

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Joan Buschbach retired from the Library Board of Trustees on April 18.

By Kelly White 

Joan Buschbach and her late husband, Jim, dedicated their lives to the Oak Lawn community. 

For more than 60 years, these Oak Lawn residents managed a successful business, Buschbach Insurance Agency Inc., as well as a travel agency, World Travel Mart. On top of their continuously busy schedule, they also raised a family of four children and have 11 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. 

“Joan Buschbach and her late husband, Jim are and have always been pillars of our community,” Mayor Terry Vorderer said. “Joan’s generosity and philanthropy has contributed to so many charitable organizations within Oak Lawn, the list seem endless. Not only her resources but her time without the need to be recognized speaks to her love of our community. Her many years as an Oak Lawn library commissioner certainly have contributed to one of the finest libraries is the Southland.  Thank you, Joan Buschbach.”  

Buschbach, who is originally from Idaho, holds quite the impressive resume, as she worked as a trustee for the Oak Lawn-Hometown School District 123 Foundation. She also was a member of the Oak Lawn Community Library Foundation, chairwoman of the Elders and a past president of Trinity Lutheran Church and a director and past president of the Oak Lawn Chamber of Commerce, along with being a member of the Advocate Christ Medical Center auxiliary. 

Buschbach’s love of education led her to tremendous involvement with the Oak Lawn Public Library, including being past president for eight terms and serving as a board member for more than 30 years. 

She retired from the Library Board of Trustees on April 18. A role she took on proudly for 30 years.  

“I’ve enjoyed every minute of it and I’m going to miss it,” Buschbach said. “Being on the board was so important to me.”   

“Joan and her loving husband Jim have been icons in the Oak Lawn community for over 50 years,” Thomas Javorcic, Marketing Manager at the Oak Lawn Public Library, said. “Together, and individually, they have either helped start or nurture many social, civic and business organizations and community efforts. They have helped launch and nurture the careers and successes of many others. Joan was particularly involved with women in business groups. Joan and Jim did all of this while operating a successful travel and insurance business in Oak Lawn, and raising a large family.” 

Her presence will be missed on the board, according to library officials.  

“Joan stands out for her resolute support of the library mission, staff, programs and collection,” Javorcic said. “Over the years, as technology and library usage has changed, Joan was at the forefront of support for any upgrades or improvements. Joan also supported the library expansion and renovation. Joan’s unassuming and quiet presence as one of Oak Lawn’s biggest boosters, and one of the library’s strongest supporters.”  

“Joan Buschbach has been a cornerstone of the Library Board for 30 years,” Carol Williams, Oak Lawn Public Library Director, said. “She has advocated for the library throughout her career, strongly believing in the purpose of libraries to provide information and opportunities to everyone in the community. She has been a role model for other board members over the years, and the Oak Lawn Public library truly has been blessed to have had her support.” 

Along with Buschbach’s extensive work at the library, together and with her husband, the couple has been involved in major expansions of local institutions, including Jim supervising an effort to raise $11 million to build Hope Children’s Hospital that opened its doors to public in 1996.   

In the spring of 2004, the Oak Lawn Public Library added on an additional 15,000 square feet of space thanks to Joan’s work with the Oak Lawn Library Board on a $5.5 million addition that increased the library’s size to 80,000 square feet from 65,000.   

Their participation on the board of the Children’s Museum in Oak Lawn, 9600 E. Shore Dr., helped to expand from a 1,000-square-foot facility in a park district building to an 11,000-square-foot space on the second floor of a renovated train station that is easily accessible, located right in the center of the Oak Lawn community. 

Buschbach’s husband, Jim, who served on the Oak Lawn Business Development Commission, passed away in February at the age of 89. He was a founder and chairman of the development committee for Hope Children’s Hospital and was a member of the governing council of Advocate Christ Medical Center, along with many other countless lifetime accomplishments.  

In April 2021, Oak Lawn officials unveiled an honorary street sign at the corner of Brand Avenue and 98th Street in Oak Lawn for the Buschbachs. 

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Oak Lawn Public Library Director Carol Williams thanked Joan Buschbach for her many years of dedicated service on the library’s Board of Trustees during the board meeting on Tuesday night.

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