cheap timberland shoes Hundreds pay respects to Audrey Nixon over two days
Audrey Nixon served longer than any other commissioner on the Lake County Board, but first she made history as the first African American woman to hold that position when she was sworn in on Dec. 2, 1982.
The other county commissioners would learn over the next 35 years that she was what one staff member called an “incremental revolutionary,” said County Board Chairman Aaron Lawlor.
Nixon was waked Friday at the Greenbelt Forest Preserve’s cultural center, which she helped secure funds for years ago, and funeral services were Saturday at the First Corinthian Missionary Baptist Church in North Chicago. There, two sheriff’s deputies in dress uniforms and white gloves stood on either side of the casket at attention, and flowers and wreaths lined the front of the church. She was buried at Mount Olivet Memorial Park Cemetery, Zion.
There were several musical interludes with her choir and two organists and a drummer using a full drum set. The Christian Valley Missionary Baptist Church choir was one she sang with on Sundays at the North Chicago church.
Lawlor told the hundreds of people on Saturday that the first time he meet her about supporting him for chairman she was “gracious and guarded.”
“But I knew she wasn’t going to support me at the time,” he said to a round of laughter.
He arranged another meeting so they could share their life stories in the hope of getting to know one another.
In a statement from the county board, Nixon was called “a cherished friend, passionate and dedicated community leader and devoted mother and grandmother.”
Nixon, a Democrat,.”She told me about growing up in the segregated South, how poor they were.”
“We were so poor we didn’t know we were poor,” she told him, but there was always laughter and family.
“She was kind, calm and had a gentle demeanor. But if you got on her wrong side, boy did you have an opponent to work against, she would take you on in a big way,” he said to more laughter.
“It’s going to take all of us to fill her shoes,” Lawlor said.
“Your mother was truly the county’s matriarch,” he told the family.
Audrey Helen Nixon, 81, was born in Bernice, La. on July 17, 1935, to Ollie Dan, Sr., and Rebecca Davis, the youngest of four siblings.
She married Roosevelt Nixon and had three children, Anthony, Tonya and Rodney. She began her career as an entrepreneur by running her own beautician salon, and in the 1960s won her first election to the North Chicago Elementary School Board. She was part of the Bobby E. Thompson (BET) Express political organization that helped him become the first African American mayor in North Chicago and go on to win three terms as mayor.
She has served on just about every committee on the County Board, but she cherished her chairmanship of the Law and Judicial Committee because she cared about giving people a second chance, and served with Waukegan Township Supervisor Patricia Jones as part of the township’s Coalition to Reduce Recidivism.
“Audrey Nixon understood the importance of giving back to the community, whether it was organizing groups, volunteering or serving on boards. She will be greatly missed and never forgotten”, Jones said.
Nixon also served on the Exchange Club, NAACP, League of Women Voters, Private Industry Council, Minority Affairs Commission, Illinois Association of Park Districts, Community Action Partnership and North Chicago Leadership Council, among others.
Family friend Cynthia Alexander told mourners that there were 25 resolutions in her honor, “but don’t worry I’m not going to read them all,” she said, explaining that the colorful hat she was wearing was one Nixon had picked out for her after passing a store on a way to a meeting in Chicago.
“She told me she saw the hat and knew it was for me,” she said.
Alexander joked about the Illinois General Assembly resolution for Nixon, saying, “It’s pretty much the only thing they have agreed on in Springfield.”
“She was a consensus builder and will be remembered for her quiet strength, wisdom and fearlessness,” the resolution said.
Sen. Terry Link, D Waukegan, attended Saturday along with Sen. Melinda Bush, D Grayslake, and State Rep. Rita Mayfield, D Waukegan. He remembered how at a political convention no one had a bad thing to say about her. Then he ran into one man who said he couldn’t stand her. When asked why, it seems he found out in a hotel room that she knew how to play cards well and had lost to her.
“I told him if you swim in a shark tank, be prepared to be bit,” he said to applause. She was also called “a professional dart player,” which many people didn’t know.
“She was probably the most loyal individual in my life,” he said, explaining how when he first ran for the Senate no one thought he could win, not even his wife, but Nixon told him, “We’re there for you.”
“And she never left my side until a week ago Thursday,” he said, referring to the morning of her death on April 27.