Frank Zuccarelli, longtime Thornton Township Supervisor, died Monday, January 3, 2022

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Thornton Township Supervisor, South Suburban College Board Chairman, and Democratic Committeeman among roles held by Frank M. Zuccarelli

By Josh Bootsma

LANSING, Ill. (January 3, 2022) – Frank Zuccarelli — a mainstay of south suburban civic involvement for four decades — died on Monday afternoon, January 3, 2022.

News of the longtime Thornton Township Supervisor’s death was confirmed by the Village of South Holland. He was 70.

A statement from South Holland — where Zuccarelli lived — said, “On Monday, January 3, at 1:07 p.m., South Holland paramedics responded to the home of Frank Zuccarelli. He was pronounced deceased at 1:18 p.m. No foul play is suspected, and appears to be the result of natural causes. The official cause of death is under investigation.”

Frank Zuccarelli
Frank Zuccarelli, who died in his South Holland home on Monday afternoon, had served as Thornton Township Supervisor since 1993. (Photo provided)

Township, community college, and Democratic Party involvement

Zuccarelli had been Supervisor of Thornton Township — the largest township in Illinois — since his election to the position in April of 1993. Prior to his election, Zuccarelli served on the Thornton Township Youth Committee Board for 16 years. He was awarded Supervisor of the Year in 1996, 2007, and 2012.

Zuccarelli also served as a member of the South Suburban College Board of Trustees since his election in 1978 and was Board Chairman since 1987. He was honored in 2019 by the Illinois Community College Trustees Association for 40 years of service to South Suburban College — the same college from which he graduated with an Associate of Science Degree in 1976 and an Associate of Arts Degree in 1978, though the college was then called Thornton Community College.

Frank Zuccarelli
Frank Zuccarelli (in white) at the Taste of Thornton Township in 2018, which was hosted at South Suburban College. (Photo: Ernst Lamothe Jr.)

Zuccarelli was also elected in 2001 to serve as the Democratic Committeeman for Thornton Township.

Thornton Township Supervisor Frank Zuccarelli (standing) addressed a crowd at the Thornton Township Senior Center in 2019. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

Education

Before enrolling in community college, Zuccarelli graduated from Thornridge High School in Dolton and completed an enlistment in the U.S. Air Force. After his time at Thornton Community College, Zuccarelli earned a bachelor’s degree from Governor State University in University Park.

Local leaders remember Frank Zuccarelli

“It’s a tragic loss for the Chicago southland region because of his leadership and the way he impacted so many lives,” South Holland Mayor Don De Graff told The Lansing Journal.

De Graff, who was elected mayor of South Holland in 1994, just one year after Zuccarelli was elected Supervisor of Thornton Township, established a strong professional relationship and friendship with Zuccarelli.

“Frank and I were close friends. We came up together in the political world. … He moved to South Holland early on and took a real interest in our community,” De Graff said, “He and I worked hard to make sure we could provide as many high-quality essential services for our residents, businesses, churches, and schools as we could. We worked together in many ways.”

De Graff added that Zuccarelli “had a real heart for kids,” that showed in his involvement with High School District 205 and South Suburban College.

Local Veterans Day commemorations
Lansing Mayor and Army Veteran Patty Eidam received a thank-you pin from Frank Zuccarelli on Veterans Day in 2017. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

Lansing Mayor Patty Eidam provided the following statement to The Lansing Journal: “Mr. Zuccarelli was a valuable leader to the residents of Lansing and all of Thornton Township. I am thankful for his support and friendship. He possessed an amazing strength in teaching others, of all ages, to volunteer. I admired him for that and his ability to prioritize education and service to community and country.”

Lansing Village Clerk Vivian Payne, who served with Zuccarelli on the South Suburban College Board since 2017, said, “Frank Zuccarelli was not only a colleague, but a dear friend to me, and his passing has left an empty place in my heart. He helped countless people in the south suburbs, and always believed in giving someone a chance. As a fellow trustee on the South Suburban College Board, I know how hard Frank worked to maintain the success of the college, and his knowledge, experience and friendship is a devastating loss to so many within SSC and the Township. Frank will be deeply missed, and my thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones during this difficult time.”

Frank Zuccarelli
Thornton Township Supervisor Frank Zuccarelli (center) attended the Fox Pointe ribbon cutting event on September 28, 2018. He posed with Lansing Mayor Patty Eidam (left) and Village Clerk Vivian Payne. (Photo: Nate Fields, 2018)

Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle shared condolences on Facebook Monday afternoon, saying, “Today I am saddened to hear of the passing of Frank Zuccarelli, Thornton Township Supervisor and Committeeperson. A resident of South Holland, Frank has been a devoted community member and champion for the south suburbs for nearly 40 years, serving on a number of boards for community organizations.”

Dolton Mayor Tiffany Henyard released a statement saying, in part, “As one of my mentors and dear friend, I had a personal connection with his inspiration and goodwill.”

U.S. Congresswoman Robin Kelly said on Facebook, “I am saddened to learn of the passing of Thornton Township Supervisor and Democratic Committeeman Frank Zuccarelli who was also Chairman of the Board of South Suburban College. He was committed to Thornton Township and the south suburbs. My condolences to his family and friends.”

Information about funeral arrangements had not yet been released at the time of this posting.

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