Howard Romanek

Howard Jay Romanek

Monday, July 21st, 1947 - Wednesday, May 20th, 2020
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Howard Jay Romanek, age 72. Devoted son of the late Louis and Jane Romanek. Survived by his siblings Elizabeth, Harvey, Irwin and Mark. Howard coached the Glenbrook South Girls Basketball team to a State of Illinois Championship in 1994. He was later inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. Info Mitzvah Memorial Funerals, 630-Mitzvah (630-648-9824).

Sad news at GBS – Retiree Howard Romanek has passed away

Howard Romanek, retired Social Studies teacher, passed away peacefully in his sleep on May 20, 2020, at the Citadel Nursing Home in Northbrook after battling brain cancer during the last year. Services will be private.
Howard was an outstanding basketball player when he graduated from Niles East High School in 1965. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois in 1969 and a master’s degree from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb. He constantly supplemented his knowledge with foreign study programs in places such as Mexico, Japan, UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Spain, and Russia.
He began his teaching and coaching career at Geneva High School in 1969, where he served as assistant varsity basketball and golf coach. In 1971, Howard joined the GBS Social Studies Department; he also taught in the Glenbrook Academy until his retirement in 2003. A dedicated teacher, he developed numerous courses including Urban Studies, Latin American history, Honors World Civilization, and AP European History; and was chosen the Distinguished Teacher of the Year in 1987.
Howard was a long-term sponsor of the Onward House tutoring project and also worked with the debate program. He began coaching freshman boys’ basketball at GBS in 1976, and after 13 successful years, became the head coach of the girls, establishing a program that became one of the most respected in Illinois. From 1993-1998, Howard’s teams won 153 games and lost just 27, including 5 conference championships, 4 regionals, 1 sectional, and the state championship in 1994. The championship team was rated 17th in the nation by USA Today. He was named Illinois Class AA Girls’ Basketball Coach of the Year by both the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association and the Illinois Girl’s Coaches Association; and was inducted into the GBS Coaches Hall of Fame in 2004-05.
Howard continued his dedication to GBS after his retirement, as both a substitute teacher and an avid follower of the basketball program. Upon his death, current Social Studies Department head noted: “I can't think of anyone who modeled as much devotion to GBS as Howie did. He left his mark on so many parts of the school - AP Euro, the Onward House partnership, girls’ basketball, the Academy, his generous scholarships over the years. It is the end of an era.”
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Service Details

  • Service

    Friday, May 22nd, 2020 | 3:00pm
    Friday, May 22nd, 2020 3:00pm
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Christopher Brame

Posted at 05:00am
He was truly one of my favorite teachers, and I'm so glad I had the chance to tell him so at last year's class of 1978 reunion. I was in his Urban Studies class, and I still have vivid memories of our field trips into Chicago.
Godspeed, Mr. Romanek, and thank you!

Christy Vavloukis

Posted at 12:39pm
My sympathies to the Romanek family. I am eternally grateful to have had Mr. Romanek as a teacher. Thanks to him a few of us got to see Baryshnikov dance and Domingo sing. His generosity of spirit was only outmatched by his passion for teaching and learning.

Karin Sissel

Posted at 10:17am
Howard Romanek was my most enthusiastic, memorable, and inspiring teacher. He encouraged his students to think critically about what they were reading and hearing, whether it was inside the classroom or out. His passion for learning and teaching was contagious, and I am sure his former students continue to be thoughtful, informed citizens of the world. Sometimes the sound of his asking, "What is the degree of bias?" still rings in my ears.

Of course I will never forget him earnestly showing his Freshman Honors World Civ class some Tai Chi moves. This was in 1980, and it was yet another new, new thing he introduced us to; naturally we all giggled. Although he was a history teacher, he was a man ahead of his time! He took a group of us to the CSO where we got to briefly meet Sir George Solti.

His kind and generous nature was best displayed by his work with Onward House where he introduced a number of privileged suburban teens to the pleasure and satisfaction of helping others. Howard Romanek introduced me to the concept of self actualization, and various ways to achieve it. I was fortunate to have been his student, and I am grateful. I am a better person for it. I am sure all his former students feel the same way.

He will be mourned and missed by so many.
Karin Stimmler Sissel, Class of '84

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