Historian of the year

2018: Joyce Tumea

Each year the Downers Grove Historical Society recognizes a person who has contributed to the Society’s mission of celebrating and preserving Downers Grove history. We are proud to recognize Joyce Tumea as the 2018 Historian of the Year.

Over the past three decades, Joyce has kept history alive through her songs, poems, skits, stories, newspaper columns and features celebrating Downers Grove and DuPage County’s people, places, and events. Her Village-sponsored cable TV show “Today’s Tidings” featured interviews with or about notable residents recognized for their achievements and contributions over the years, such as opera star (and Downers Grove native) Sherrill Milnes, former Mayor Betty Cheever, Choral Society founder Thelma Roe Milnes, comedian Emo Phillips, WWII Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Fred Lester Jr., Sears Home expert Bob Jensen, Underground Railroad expert Glennette Tilley Turner, Historical Society historians Carol Wandschneider and Lois Sterba, and local historian and noted author Montrew Dunham, among others. She has interviewed community leaders involved with groups such as Downers Grove Rotary, Kiwanis, Artist Guild, PADS, AAUW, Questers, DAR, League of Women Voters, Garden Club, and many others.

Joyce’s newspaper column “Dateline Downers” featured in both the Suburban Life and Suburban Life-Reporter Newspapers also focused on interesting people, events and organizations in town, as well as on daily Downers Grove life.

Joyce is an active volunteer with the Downers Grove Historical Society and has been active with the Downers Grove Museum mainly as a docent. She has portrayed Lucy Downer, Arvilla Wells and Avis Blodgett for various events. She also has produced programming for these organizations, such as “A Downers Grove Holiday Historical” about our early Christmas traditions in Downers Grove, and “Guests in the Graveyard” about some of our early settlers buried in the Main Street Cemetery. Along with her all-volunteer troupe of actors called PriMerry Players, Joyce continues to write and produce historical skits, programs and songs celebrating Downers Grove, DuPage, and Illinois history.

A Downers Grove resident for 38 years, Joyce grew up in Brookfield and was educated at Lyons Township High School, College of DuPage, Illinois State University and Bradley University. She and her husband Tony have three children, Connie, David and Phillip.

The Downers Grove Historical Society would like to congratulate Joyce for her selection as the 2018 Historian of the Year and to thank her for all she has done and continues to do to bring Downers Grove and regional history to life for readers and audiences throughout the area.

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