Ethnic Heritage Museum holds International Music Festival

Fathers of the Year to be honored at June 6 event

The Ethnic Heritage Museum will hold its 14th Annual International Music Festival from noon to 4 p.m., Sunday, June 6, on the museum grounds, 1129 S. Main St. Rain site will be St. Anthony’s Church, 1010 Ferguson St.

Special highlight will be The Honored Fathers of the Year, one from each of the ethnic groups featured at the museum. Entertainment will be provided by the City of Rockford Pipe Band (the 2004 RAMI Award winner), Armando Cardenas on accordion, Julian deLuna on piano, Maria Castello, who will do a tango dance, Farran Rounds, vocalist, and Swing Entertainment (dance).

Cost of the event, $6, includes the pork chop dinner and entry to the museum. For more information, call 962-7402.

Honored Fathers vignettes

John Salvetore Gagliano–Italian

John Gagliano was born Sept. 11, 1930. His father was born in Sicily, Italy, and came to the U.S. in 1888. John was one of 14 children; his parents resided in Rockford, and John graduated from West High School.

He served in the Illinois National Guard for eight years as a tech sergeant and as a volunteer fireman from 1959 to 1961. Since then, he has been active in many other organizations. He was an auxiliary policemen for the Rockford area for eight years, and served for two as commander. In April 1967, a tornado hit Belvidere. As a member of the Auxiliary Police Department, Gagliano helped rescue people, transporting injured residents in Belvidere and Rockford. He also helped clean up the bodies of those who did not survive.

Gagliano has been active with Habitat for Humanity since 1999. He has personally helped erect 20 homes for homeless families. He serves on the board of directors for the Ethnic Heritage Museum, and has been the force behind the remodeling project for the Museum’s Annex Building. He has also helped the Salvation Army, the ARC, Rockford Rescue Mission and the United Way. He was nominated for Lifescape Super Senior of the Year in 2003.

Gagliano has seven children, 13 grandchildren and three great grandchildren who live from Texas to Oklahoma and in Illinois.

Richard Meeks–African-American

Richard Meeks, son of Lindbergh and Margaret Meeks, was born in Arkansas in 1952, the second of six children. His family moved to Rockford when he was in kindergarten. He graduated from Auburn High School and obtained an A.A. degree from Rock Valley in 1995, a B.S. in Child Development from Rockford College in 1997, and earned his master’s from Aurora University in 2000.

He married Barbara Cherry in 1981, and they have two children–Tyler, 19, a sophomore at University of Illinois at Chicago, and Kaitlyn, 15, a freshman at Auburn.

Meeks is a lifelong member of Allen A.M.E. Chapel. The past five years, he has taught at Ellis School and is now completing his first year at Lathrop. He worked at Roc Vale from 1997-81 as a cottage leader, and from 1981-83 was employed by The Mill, being responsible for the peer program. From 1983-87 he was a community facilitator at Booker Washington Center. He was with the Regional Learning Center from 1987-92, and the Parent Information Center from 1996-98. He worked part time at The Mill while earning his degree.

He previously coached girls’ basketball, and for more than 20 years was well known for his storytelling in schools and in the community. He presently teaches government in Belvidere along with his full-time teaching at Lathrop. He has been involved with New American Theater, Rockford Civic Theatre, Rockford College and Rock Valley plays, the Richard Meeks Theatre Ensemble and Rockford Puppeteers. He taught drama at Rock Valley College (1986-87) and was involved with Rock Valley plays in the Starlight Saturday Program.

Edward A. Creagan–Irish

Edward Creagan was born in Rockford on Sept. 12, 1943, the fourth of six children of Bill and Kathryn Murphy Creagan. His father was also born in Rockford. His grandfather, John, was a fireman, captain at Station No. 1, 208 S. Church St. Three of Creagan’s grandparents came from County Cork; the other grandparent came from Germany.

Creagan is a graduate of St. Pat’s and St. Thomas High School. He took courses at Rock Valley, and later married Mary Wessels in Rockford on July 16, 1966. They have three children: Michelle Mathewson, a second grade teacher in South Beloit; Todd Creagan, a CPA in Buffalo Grove; and Holly Melvin, a human services caseworker for the state of Illinois in Pontiac. There are six grandchildren.

Creagan has worked in many fields, starting at a bank, where he met his wife-to-be; at Tom Harmers Sporting Goods; as director of the workshop at the School of Hope; as executive director of Big Brothers/Big Sisters in Rockford; two stints at Rockford Drop Forge; he also spent 11 years with Illinois Forge in Rock Falls. He is now employed by Anderson Industrial Supply in Rockford.

Creagan is an active member of St. Peter Cathedral Parish. During the ’60s he served in the Army Reserves for six years. He enjoys sports and being with his grandchildren.

James Wallace Kasputis Sr.–Lithuanian

James Kasputis was born in Denver, Colo., in March 1943 to Wallace Stanley and Chic Pegararo Kasputis, the elder of two sons. His father was in the service at the time, and the family moved back to Rockford. He graduated from West High in 1961.

He married Grace Spataro in Rockford’s St. Anthony Church in 1962. They have two children–Regina Kasputis Bakunowicz (Jim) and James Wallace Kasputis Jr., who is married to the former Nayeli Nunez. The Bakunowiczes have two children.

An entrepreneur in the work force, Jim Sr. and his wife owned and operated Kasputis Charter Buses for more than 25 years. His buses traveled to and from all Chicago area race tracks. He sold the company, and for the past 15 years has operated Rockford Charitable Games, Inc. (Casinos for Charities–non-profit organizations–i.e., March of Dimes). He owns the equipment and sets up casinos in various locations. This involves teaching volunteers to operate equipment. Kasputis is an active member of St. Anthony Church, Senior Holy Name Society, St. Ambrose Society, the Lombardi Club and the Ethnic Heritage Museum.

Jose Berumen–Hispanic

Jose Berumen was born March 19, 1918. His mother’s maiden name was Maria de Jesus Sandoval. Berumen married Herminia Correa in Jalisco, Mexico, and now has 11 children, 37 grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.

Four of his children attended a university. One is a mechanical engineer, one an accountant, one a social worker, and another graduated with a degree in business administration.

Jose Berumen had the first Mexican store in the house before it became the Ethnic Heritage Museum. He moved his residence and business to 901 Cunningham St., and sold it years later when he retired. Berumen is known as a landlord with heart; if any of his tenants cannot pay rent due to lack of employment, Berumen will help them with money to purchase food and pay bills.

Berumen’s wife died in September 1993. Ever since, he has devoted his time to family activities and gets together with his family almost every weekend. They enjoy having a big fiesta with his 56 family members. On his last birthday, the fiesta lasted three days. They also celebrated his granddaughter’s quinceanera for three days.

Krzysztof Jan Tumilowicz–Polish

Krzysztof Jan Tumilowicz was born in 1953 in London, England, the older of two sons of Polish refugees, Miroslaw and Danuta Tumilowicz. Growing up in Chicago Polish neighborhoods, Kris did well academically, and participated in sports and music. In 1971 he graduated from Glenbard North High School, where he received the Bausch & Lomb Science Student of the Year Award.

Kris was active in Boy Scouts, attained the rank of Eagle Scout, and was inducted into the Order of the Arrow. Today he serves as vice president of Marketing for the Blackhawk Area Council, Boy Scouts of America. His children, Nicholas, Michael and Danielle, are all active in Scouting.

Kris graduated from MacMurray College with a degree in chemistry and completed his dental education at Southern Illinois Un

iversity in 1977. At age 23, he was the youngest dentist in DeKalb. In 1980, Dr. T. moved to Rockford and opened his own general dental practice, Dental Dimensions. He became active with the Chamber of Commerce and served 12 years on the board of directors of the American Red Cross.

In 1983, Kris married Patti Carlini at St. Stanislaus Church. He is a 4th degree Knight of Columbus and serves on the finance council at the Cathedral of St. Peter. Dr. Tumilowicz sings regularly in the cathedral choir and serves as a cantor.

He has been an active member of the Rotary Club of Loves Park since 1983 and has served as club president. He received the Rotarian of the Year Award, and he and his wife Patti are Paul Harris Fellows. He served as chairman for the district conference held in Rockford and attended the Rotary Convention in Taipei, Taiwan.

Dr. T. has continued his dental studies and received Fellowships in the Academy of General Dentistry and the Misch Implant Institute. He is also a graduate of TMJ Framework and the Las Vegas Institute of Cosmetic Dentistry. He is a diplomat in the International Congress of Oral Implantologists.

Most recently, he has served as team dentist for the Rockford RiverHawks and Rockford IceHogs. Last year, he became part owner of the IceHogs.

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