The Rogers Park West Ridge community lost one of its most famous sons with the death on February 24 of writer, film director, and actor Harold Ramis (1944-2014), creator of such films as Groundhog Day, Animal House, Analyze This, Caddyshack, and Ghostbusters I & II.
In 1951, when he was seven years old, Ramis’ family moved from Chicago’s West Side to Rogers Park. His father owned a store on Devon Avenue near Glenwood Avenue. Ramis attended Steven K. Hayt Elementary School at 1518 W. Granville and Senn High School from 1959-1962 where he participated in the choir (which sometimes took part in the chorus at the Lyric Opera), fencing team, and other activities. In the 1990s he moved back to the Chicago area.
RPWRHS member Howard Fink, a retired judge who grew up Rogers Park/West Ridge, came to know Harold Ramis when both were active in Senn High School’s Principal for the Day program. “He was a neighborhood kid who never forgot he came from the neighborhood and was always ready to come back,” said Mr. Fink. He recalls on occasion when Harold Ramis spoke for 15 minutes about his time at Senn and engaged in a conversation with the students, only mentioning his brilliant career in films at the very end.
“He affected you a great deal when you met him,” said Mr. Fink. “He was very calm, modest, and genuinely humble. But you could tell sitting with him how brilliant he was and how he thought way outside the box.” And, despite his brilliant career in Hollywood, he “always saw himself as a Rogers Parker.”