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Aldermen remember former colleague

Evanston aldermen offered warm recollections Monday after learning of the death of their former colleague, Dennis Drummer.

Mayor Lorraine Morton announced that Drummer, who retired from the council in 2001 after serving as 2nd Ward alderman for 17 years, had died over the weekend in his home state of Louisiana

Drummer, who was about 61 years old, had retired to Louisiana a few years ago after closing Drummer Drapery Service, a business he started and ran at 1425 Lake St. in Evanston for many years.

"Dennis was the glue of the City Council," Alderman Edmund Moran, 6th Ward, said.

Moran and other aldermen said Drummer was extremely helpful in coaching them on the ways of the city when they first were elected to the council and that he was instrumental in brokering compromises among disparate factions.

"He was really my good friend," Moran said, recalling conversations both in the backyard of Drummer’s former home at 2015 Greenwood St. and at FitzGerald’s night club in Berwyn that featured the Zydeco music Drummer loved.

Alderman Steve Bernstein, 4th Ward, praised Drummer’s "rational way of thinking" that helped overcome "fighting and screaming" among aldermen over the years.

Drummer came to Evanston "with nothing in his pocket," Bernstein said. "He went to work for a buck a day in a drapery shop, worked hard all the time and created a small empire."

"He always was working with that goal in mind to get down to Louisiana and go fishing and listen to Zydeco," Bernstein added.

"He worked so hard for the goal he achieved, but didn’t have long enough to enjoy it."

Drummer, who Bernstein said was "a prolific smoker, I don’t remember him ever without a cigarette in his mouth," died of lung cancer.

Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, said Drummer "was a true parliamentarian of the first order."

"He taught me the ropes of how the council operates," Wynne said, "and he had a phenomenal memory for what the council had done."

Alderman Ann Rainey said Drummer was incredibly well organized, even to the way he dressed. "Did you ever see a better dressed man?" she asked.

And she said his drapery business drew clients from all over the country.

The mayor also read a statement from Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste, who was absent from the meeting, noting that Drummer had recruited him to succeed him as 2nd Ward alderman after Drummer’s son had befriended Jean-Baptiste’s daughter.

He said Drummer was not only likable as an individual but hardworking and knowledgeable.

And Mayor Morton said, "I am mayor because Dennis came and bugged me night after night to run."

The mayor, who was an alderman when Drummer first was elected to the council, said that Drummer had taken the leadership to help provide city assistance for residents required to move from their homes as the city and Northwestern University developed the Research Park project in the 1980s.

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