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Maura Tovar and her children, Sean and Bevin, hold a sign that will be erected at the Graves Elementary/Heritage Middle School soccer field to honor the memory of her late husband Bernabe Tovar. (Photo by Enrique Rodriguez)

Maura Tovar and her children, Sean and Bevin, hold a sign that will be erected at the Graves Elementary/Heritage Middle School soccer field to honor the memory of her late husband Bernabe Tovar. (Photo by Enrique Rodriguez)

School District 104 dedicates field to Bernabe Tovar

By Carol McGowan

School District 104 commemorated the life and service of school teacher and soccer coach Bernabe Tovar with the dedication last week of a sports field in his honor.

Supt. Troy Whalen hosted the event last Thursday, which welcomed a crowd of nearly 150 at Graves Elementary/Heritage Middle School in Summit.

Whalen highlighted the life and teaching career of Tovar, who taught at the school for nearly 15 years and was instrumental in developing the school’s soccer program.

“Mr. Tovar was 42, and during the time he was with the district, he brought excitement to learning science, and thrills to many students who played soccer,” said Whalen.

Heritage Middle School Dean Scott Forman told the Desplaines Valley News that Tovar left his full-time painting job to become a teacher, and took on much more than that.

“During his time at HMS, Bernabe also worked as a sponsor of our eighth-grade Leadership Club, PTO president, and he also worked as the union vice president. He was the first head soccer coach for boys and girls soccer, where he coached both teams for five years.”

“In 2014, Bernabe worked with myself and Dr. Whalen to propose to the school board that they create a soccer team for boys and girls at HMS. With Bernabe’s vision and leadership, our school board funded the new soccer program and the school board built a soccer field behind Heritage Middle School. The soccer field has an irrigation system and two 20-foot back stops. It’s a great field.”

Fellow teacher Dawn Balicki also addressed the crowd with stories of having adjoining classrooms with Tovar, and also having a classroom on the other side that was taught by Tovar’s wife, Maura.

Maura Tovar concluded the dedication by thanking everyone in her District 104 family for the care and compassion on her husband’s passing and thanked the school board for naming the athletic field after him.

Tovar was a former student in District 104, and a graduate of Argo High School. He passed away in September of 2019.

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Joining Bernabe Tovar’s wife at the dedication of a soccer field in his honor were (from left) District 104 Supt. Troy Whelan, Bedford Park Mayor Dave Brady, Bridgeview Mayor Steve Landek, Summit Mayor Sergio Rodriguez and Lyons Township Trustee Mike Porfirio. (Photo by Enrique Rodriguez)

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