At one point there were 240 extended members of the County Cork Philbins living in Oak Lawn. They laid track for the Wabash Railroad, served as the first church organist for St. Gerald's, fought fires and drove ambulances for the Oak Lawn Fire Department, and helped dig out survivors of the 1967 Oak Lawn Tornado bare-handed, six days after arriving home from the Vietnam War.
Six generations of the Philbin Family were remembered last Saturday when Mayor Dave Heilmann and Trustee Bob Streit (Dist. 3) dedicated a portion of Cook Avenue between 97th and 98th Streets that will now forever be known as Philbin Way.
"When I think of St. Gerald’s, thanks to your family there’s a beautiful faith-based community that’s the fabric of our community," Heilmann said. "When you talk about pple who are the fabric of the community you had the needle and the thread. Many leave but your family stayed."
At least three generations of Philbins were on hand to watch the mayor and Bob Philbin III lumber up a ladder and cut the plastic off a brown honorary street sign. Bob III took some kidding from the mayor and his siblings during the ceremony for being a diehard, South Side Cubs fan.
Watch the video of the Philbin street dedication.
Bob Philbin III began lobbying the village last March for an honorary street dedication as a birthday present for his father, Bob Philbin Jr.
Philbin Jr.'s great-grandfather Patrick Flynn helped build the original Wabash train station, now located off 95th Street, back in the 1880’s. Other relatives helped during the construction of St. Gerald’s Catholic Church, as well as the first Oak Lawn post office (now the location of Krauss’ Gaslight Lounge).
“Back in those days, we kids had to find our own fun," Bob Jr. recalled for Patch in 2011. "Hunting rabbits in the fields was a frequent activity. We also spent countless hours building and rebuilding forts out of old tree branches,” Bob Sr. recalled."
Bob III has amassed photos and documents tracing the family's history in Oak Lawn, which he has shared with local historian Kevin Korst of the Oak Lawn Library.
After the unveiling of the sign, a sixth-generation of Oak Lawn Philbins offered up a cheer: "P-H-I-L-B-I-N W-A-Y."