The Illinois Prairie Path lost a great advocate with the recent death of Jean Mooring at the age of 86. Jean, along with her husband Paul, were unstoppable in their long-term commitment to getting the nation’s first successful rail trail off the ground.
This year, the Illinois Prairie Path is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Jean Mooring worked as a volunteer on the West Suburban path for 48 of those years. She was the editor of the Illinois Prairie Path not-for-profit group’s newsletter for 16 years and served on the group’s board of directors for 32 years, a role the long-time Glen Ellyn resident continued until her death.
In 1988, Prairie Path volunteers received a national Take Pride in America Award. At a White House ceremony, the Moorings accepted the award on behalf of all the path’s volunteers.
While Jean Mooring’s mobility was limited in recent years, she still enjoyed getting out on the path so she could marvel at the many people enjoying the fruits of her labor. She loved to see people biking, walking and running along the scenic 62-mile trail.
The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy's magazine recently published a feature article (PDF) to honor the 50th anniversary of the Prairie Path and the long-term dedication of the Moorings and another married couple who volunteered on the path for many years. Even though setbacks and challenges were not uncommon during her many years of volunteering, Jean Mooring said in the article:
“You will always find more joy than adversity” in a trail-building project such as this, “and you have the satisfaction of improving people’s lives.”