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Park name tribute to late Sycamore physician

Park District to dedicate Dr. John Ovitz Park in the fall

SYCAMORE – It’s fitting that the winning name of Sycamore’s newest park is announced on the 100th birthday of its namesake.

The nearly 5-acre park in the Sycamore Creek Subdivision will be dedicated this fall as Dr. John Ovitz Park, named for the lifelong resident and physician.

The name was suggested by Ella Follman, a fourth-grader from North Grove Elementary School. Her essay was the winning entry in the Sycamore Park District’s name the park competition.

In her nomination, Ella wrote, “I feel the park should be named Ovitz Park. I believe it would be an honor for Sycamore to have one of its parks named after Dr. John Ovitz. He was an outstanding citizen and lifelong member of Sycamore.

“He was a doctor in Sycamore for over 50 years until he retired in 1999 at the age of 85. He was a World War II veteran. He served on the Sycamore Chamber of Commerce, Sycamore Community School District and was a member of the Sycamore Rotary Club for 60 years. He was also one of the founding members of the Family Service Agency. His past services have made Sycamore a better place today. The park will be an area where children and families can run, play and laugh. It is the perfect location to name after a man who dedicated his life to helping the children and families of Sycamore.”

Ella will receive a $1,000 U.S. savings bond for her winning entry. Runners up, each receiving $500 U.S. savings bonds, were Nathan Miller, a second-grader at Southeast Elementary, who suggested Lincoln Memorial Park, and Robbie Melnick, a third grader at North Grove Elementary, who suggested Lincoln Park.

“Her dad told her about Dr. Ovitz,” said Ella’s mother, Julie Follman. “Both her dad and his mother were delivered by Dr. Ovitz.”

Ovitz died April 2 at age 99. He was a third-generation doctor and a graduate of Sycamore High School and Dartmouth College, and he earned his medical degree from Northwestern University School of Medicine in 1940.

He married Virginia Noyes in 1941, and they had three children, Carol, Jane and Jack. His wife died in 1954, and in 1957, he married Jane Downs. Together they had two children, Robert and Anne.

Ovitz’s three daughters were in Sycamore recently and expressed their appreciation for naming the park for their father.

“What an honor,” Carol Ovitz Hancock said.

They remembered their father as an enthusiastic outdoorsman who enjoyed raising and riding horses, fishing, canoeing and bow hunting.

The park district received more than 60 entries from children in kindergarten through sixth-grade at Sycamore public and private schools. Winners were chosen by the park district’s Citizens Advisory Committee. 

“It’s not often we get to add a new park to the community and we can’t honor everyone who has done great things for the community,” said park district Executive Director Dan Gibble. “So this is really special.”

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