Music Festival honors Fathers of the Year

Ethnic Heritage Museum celebrates its 16th Annual International Music Festival with a special presentation of six “Fathers of the Year.” The Festival will be from noon to 5 p.m., Sunday, June 4, at the Lithuanian Club, 716 Indiana Ave. A baked chicken dinner will be served at a cost of $8. Note the new location.

African-American Father

Mark L. Hunter, 45, is the black male health coordinator for the Winnebago County Health Department. His job is to provide health education to African-American males and the African-American community regarding healthy lifestyle and health disparity issues. Hunter also works to increase health access for African-American males, while collaborating with other community organizations to mobilize efforts to eliminate health disparities between African-American males and other groups. Central to this health outreach initiative was the creation and efforts of the Black Male Health Community Action Team, a volunteer-driven community organization formed in December 2001.

After two years at Rock Valley College, Hunter obtained a degree in psychology from Morehouse College in Atlanta, then pursued two years of graduate training in health psychology from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Ariz. He returned to Rockford in 1992 and worked for Catholic Charities and the Rockford School District before he was hired by the Health Department in 2001. He is married to Shurice Hunter and is the proud father of two boys. He is a member of Pilgrim Baptist Church, where he serves in the Deacons’ Ministry and Children’s Church Ministry. In February 2006, he received an Eddie B. Edwards Black Award, presented at the Baptist General State Convention of Illinois Nurses, for humanitarian service.

Irish-American Father

Thomas Lorden, a Rockford native, is the fourth of six children of E. Michael and E. Gertrude Betzold Lorden. His great grandparents came from Ireland in the 1850s. He was born in 1942.

Lorden graduated from St. Thomas High School in 1960 and Xavier University in Cincinnati in 1964. He married Nancy Johnson in Rockford in 1969. They have four children. His two sons, Tommy and Danny, are managing partners at Lorden Distributing, their father’s business. His two daughters are university graduates; Kathleen is a free-lance film distributor in Los Angeles, and Molly is a Chicago public schoolteacher.

Thomas Lorden has been in business at Lorden Distributing for many years, having followed his father into the family business. They have been involved in various fund-raisers for many local community organizations. Lorden has been an officer and director of the Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois and a recipient of the Miller Masters Award and the Miller Legends Award.

Tom was involved in coaching sports activities while his children were in grade school; today, he enjoys American history, fishing and spending time with his growing family. Past activities include the following: former president of the Boylan Booster Club and the Boylan Foundation; chairman of the ProAm in 1986; board member of St. Elizabeth Center for many years; and a founder of the Irish Marching Society.

Hispanic Father

Pastor Tito Cevallos, born in Puerto Rico in 1952, has seven brothers and sisters. Musically inclined, at age 18 he recorded his first LP. He interpreted his songs for IFESA of Guayaquil, Ecuador, and in 1993 moved to Costa Rica, where he worked in TV and music for 23 years. Cevallos graduated from the University of Theology, International Business and Economy in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Cevallos married Lupita Rosabal of Puntarenas, Queen of “Los Carnavales of Puntarenas-Costa Rica” in 1971, and the couple have four children and two grandchildren. He felt a call to the ministry when he was 24, and his first ministry was serving “children of the street.” Three years later, the band was converted to Christ and started the first Evangelistic Worship Group, integrated by professional musicians, in Latin America.

In his 30 years of ministry, Pastor Cevallos has participated in many Christian projects and with different denominations, promoting ecumenical relations. Pastor Cevallos has been in charge of the Hispanic Ministry at Faith Center since October 1994. There, he initiated his career in the Evangelistic Church Ministries and combined his religious practices with his artistic and professional career. He is working on his doctorate in theology and biblical history. He believes fatherhood is a lifelong responsibility. He is the main performer at “La Posada” every year at Christmas time.

Polish-American Father

John Nichols was born in 1936 in Amsterdam, N.Y.; his mother was Polish and his father was Lithuanian. From his maternal grandmother, he learned the language, songs and customs of Poland. From his earliest years, he has had a strong love for and commitment to family. In high school, he enjoyed sports and music; he was captain of his basketball team, pitcher for his baseball team and participated in chorus, band and school musicals. After high school, he enrolled at Delhi State University, majoring in drafting design, graduating in 1955. At his first job, he made detail drawings of parts for locomotive engines for the American Locomotive Company in Schenectady, N.Y.

Nichols served three years in Philippines with the Army Security Agency and then married his sweetheart, Judith Wolf. They settled near Judy’s parents in Illinois, where John worked for several manufacturers of hydraulic components. In 1970, he began a career with Mechanical Tool and Engineering Company in Rockford that lasted 25 years.

Nichols and his wife have five children and 15 grandchildren. Recently, he celebrated his 70th birthday with his family. He has been enjoying retirement since 2000, spending time with his family, traveling in his motor home, fishing, woodworking, doing digital photography and singing.

Italian-American Father

Peter J. Provenzano is the Italian Father of the Year. He and his wife have three children, and the family are members of Cathedral of St. Peter Parish. His grandparents came from Sicily. Provenzano is president and CEO of SupplyCore. A graduate of University of Arizona, he has been involved in several entrepreneurial and technology-related ventures. He joined SupplyCore in 1997 and worked in purchasing, operations and sales prior to becoming CEO.

Provenzano has supported numerous service organizations and serves on the Board of Directors of the YMCA, the Rockford College Board of Trustees, and the Rockford Local Development Corporation. He also serves as co-chairman of the Connecting Our Future capital campaign for the Burpee Museum and the Discovery Center.

Lithuanian-American Father

Richard Petty is the Lithuanian Father of the Year, tracing his heritage from his mother. Her parents came to Spring Valley, Ill. Richard’s mother, Bernice, met her husband in the U.S., and Richard was one of six children. He graduated from Jefferson High School. While attending Jefferson during the day, he worked at Chrysler at night, and continued to work there until he retired in 1997. He met his wife-to-be, Mary, and they married in 1974; they have three children. His daughter Cindy recalls with pride that he likes to spend time with his family, which just keeps growing. Her father has three son-in-laws, five grandsons and one granddaughter. Cindy says her father “would do anything for his family.” In September 1998, he even gave her one of his kidneys when she needed a transplant.

Petty and his family are very involved in the Lithuanian Club activities, as he is president of the club. At the club, he runs the fish fries on Friday nights and also helps with repair work, such as fixing a broken water heater or a leaky pipe. He enjoys various hobbies, such as crossword puzzles, fishing, playing horse shoes, working on cars and playing Texas Hold ’Em. He used to race at Rockford Speedway. He also likes to visit his relatives in Lithuania.



Entertainment will be provided by John Nichols, Polish Father of the Year; Mark Culhane, master of ceremonies; and Chuck Sweeny, Rockford Register Star columnist; Armando Cardenas Band (Hispanic music); Amici Italian Folk Dancers; KLUMPE’ Lithuanian Folk Dancers from Madison, Wis.; Dr. Richard Hayes, bagpiper, and the McNulty School of Irish Dance; singers and dancers of Nicolaus Copernicus Polish Language School; and Joy Unlimited Gospel Singers from St. Paul Church of God in Christ.

No reservations are necessary. Buy tickets at the door. For more information, call the Ethnic Heritage Museum at 962-7402.

From the May 31-June 6, 2006, issue

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