Reflecting on JFK’s Impact on Rockford

Source: Rockford Morning Star. October 25, 1960. Front Page.

Sixty years have passed since that fateful day in Dallas, Texas, when the nation mourned the loss of its 35th President, John F. Kennedy. Lee Harvey Oswald’s act of violence shattered the sunny optimism that Kennedy had come to symbolize, leaving a void that some argue has never truly been filled.

Rockford, Illinois, holds a poignant connection to this tragedy. In October 1960, JFK graced the Forest City with his presence, delivering a speech at the historic Coronado Theatre. The charisma and hope he exuded left an indelible impression, as he acknowledged the warmth and enthusiasm of the crowds in Rockford, even though Illinois was known as a red state at that time. He remarked, “I believe that the reception you have given to all of us that are running this year indicates that it is time that the Vice President came back to Illinois and started to look after it because I think Illinois will go Democratic on November 8, and so will the United States. And I think it would be good for the local paper to report that Rockford went Democratic.”

In the 1960 Presidential Election, JFK secured a victory in Illinois, albeit by a narrow margin. Winnebago County, home to Rockford, overwhelmingly supported the Republican candidate, Richard M. Nixon. Despite political differences, the bond between Kennedy and Rockford had been forged.

Fast forward to November 22nd, 1963, the day the nation stood still. Upon learning of the President’s assassination, Rockford residents, irrespective of their political affiliations, were united in sorrow. The tragic event transcended party lines, and the communal heart of Rockford mourned the loss of a leader who had once graced their city with promises of a brighter future.

As we mark the anniversary of the assassination, let us honor the memory of President Kennedy and the enduring spirit of hope that he enthused. In our collective reflection, let us find solace in the indomitable human capacity to aspire for a better tomorrow, even in the face of adversity. The impact of JFK on Rockford and the nation echoes through time, with the lingering memory of his visit as a testament to the hope he inspired.

Watch a snippet of JFK’s speech in Rockford here:

Source: Rockford Morning Star. November 23, 1963. Page A5.

Source: Rockford Morning Star. October 25, 1960. Page A6.

Author: Jawuan – RPL Librarian

Rockford Seminary Syncopators 1928

Seminary Syncopators: Ellen Baker (Drums), Mabel Jones (Violin), Helen Lalasnsky (Piano), Agnes O’Dell (Saxophone), and Roberta Meese (Banjo)

The Seminary Syncopators, bubbling over with melody, harmony, and rhythm, have played their way into the hearts of all lovers of jazz and syncopation. This group of musicians, organized only this fall, have proved extremely popular as entertainers. They sponsored an “Oriental Tea Dance” on the afternoon of Thanksgiving Day, which was their first real public appearance, and since then have played at a number of college functions, including Washington Party, Dramatic Club plays, and short informal dances in the gymnasium.

Source: Cupola 1928  R378.7 R58 1928

Rockford High School Mandolin Club 1900

Mandolins: Raymond Frost, Louis Lindloff, Birdseye Pierpont, Belle Haley and William Hayes

Guitars: Fred Carrico, Mary Turner, Samuel Andrews and John Green

Source: The Annual MDCCCC  R379.7 R59R 1900

Italian Choral Group in Recital at St. Elizabeth’s Center

Source: Morning Star  April 23, 1950   pg.41

Michael Verace   Old hand stirs Ramada remix

Michael Verace Old hand stirs Ramada remix

Local Artist, Major Fashion Designer Virgil Abloh Dies At 41




Source:  Thibault Camus/ AP File


Source:  Rockford Register Star, USA Today Network, Nov. 29, 2021.

Unity Club Performance in Unity Hall of the Church of the Christian Union Rockford Morning Star May 20,1891

  1. Julia Wells  2. Grace Leonard  3. Etta Clark  4. Nettie Worthman  5. Mrs. G. Will Fish  6. Florence Bryant  7.  Winnifred Gray  8. Ethel Comings  9. Caroline Radecke  10. Martha Kennedy
  2. Mrs. Willis Kimball  12. Belle Elmore  13. Lossie Comings  14. Fannie Blinn  15. May Stewart  16. Alice Brown

Photo Source:  RPL Local History Photo Collection

A Capitol Idea–the Capitol Theatre

Source: Pappagallo, Spring 2019