Ross Lathrop, who served as 5th Ward Alderman from 1976 to 1980, died in his Wheaton, Ill. home February 24. Lathrop, 84, moved from Hyde Park in 2001.
One of a handful of independent aldermen to oppose Mayor Richard J. Daley, Lathrop won the Fifth Ward aldermanic seat by less than three hundred votes over Al Raby after Leon Despres retired and served just one term before falling to Larry Bloom in 1980. He joined Dick Simpson and Martin Oberman in opposing an otherwise monolithic City Council firmly in the pocket of Daley.
First gaining notice in Hyde Park through his work with the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, he introduced the WhistleStop Program, which he had learned of in California, to the neighborhood in an effort to prevent violence and crime by handing out whistles to summon the police.
Former alderman Oberman said he remembered Lathrop fondly.
“[He] was a hard-working guy with an independent mind,” Oberman said. “He was a good guy, a decent guy”.
Lathrop came the Hyde Park from Wisconsin to attend graduate school and the University of Chicago and worked at the U of C’s Industrial Relations Center until his run for alderman. After losing to Bloom, he remained in Hyde Park for two more decades as a landlord and real estate developer.
A memorial service is planned at Cantigny Park, 1S151 Winfield Rd., Wheaton, Ill. March 19 at 1p.m.