From the first week that Eli’s the Place for Steak opened on Chicago Avenue in 1966, there was a standing date for table 31 at 8pm on Monday nights. The picture above from the early days shows the special guests that made
Eli’s their dinner destination after office hours at the 42nd Ward Office; it was Cook County Board President and Ward Committeeman, George W. Dunne, pictured on the left, Ward Organization President and and bon vivant, Ira Colitz (in the center), and Eli Schulman on the right.
This standing dinner date that extended over 20 years was one of the highlights of Eli’s week. Other guests joining the group included Secretary of State, Jesse White, Alderman Burt Natarus of the 42nd Ward and Walter
Burnett, Alderman of the 27th Ward.
This past week, Chicago mourned the passing of George Dunne, who died at his farm in McHenry County on Sunday, May 27th. His service and wake at Holy Name Cathedral attracted the leaders in the business and political
community, all of whom shared respect for George and his passion for helping people. In an era when many politicians thrive on the perks of power, George walked to work each day from his 42nd residence without body guards or escorts.
In his Eulogy at Holy Name, attorney and long time friend, Ray Simon, remarked how George’s life revolved around the 42nd Ward, which includes the Magnificent Mile and Holy Name Cathedral. George was born in the Ward in
1913, seven years before the completion of the Michigan Avenue Bridge, which marked the beginning of the development of Michigan Avenue. He served as Ward Committeeman from 1961 to 2004, a term of 43 years in which the entire profile of the Michigan Avenue neighborhood changed with the development of Streeterville for residential and Northwestern Memorial uses and the decline of the low income housing projects in Cabrini Green to the west as new housing for mixed incomes was developed in its place.
George Dunne was instrumental in the creation of the Eli’ M. Schulman Playground in Seneca Park after Eli’s passing in 1988. It was very fitting as George started his career in politics as the Lake Shore Park Manager,
which is the person responsible for watching over the smaller Seneca Park to its west. In his eulogy, Ray Simon, mentioned George’s affection for Eli and for his sense of humor that was demonstrated at the ceremony naming the Playground for Eli in the Fall of 1988. As Simon recounted, George was a speaker at the dedication ceremony and told of Eli’s love of parks–Arlington Park, Maywood Park and Hawthorn–all race tracks. When George told that story and when Ray recounted it, the audience enjoyed a great laugh, knowing of Eli’s interest in the races.