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Friday, September 4, 2015

Nick Prokos, Master Potter, Sculptor and former Barat College Professor and Art Dept Chair has Died

Photos taken at Prokos Studio Open House May 1, 2011 ~ Pictured with Nick are:
Mary Schumacher, RSCJ, Martha Curry, RSCJ,  MER and Michael Boruch

The following news of Nick Prokos' death was forwarded to me by a fellow alumna who received word of Nick's passing from his son John.  I promised to post his obit (posted first on his son Michael's Facebook page who is also a potter) and pass this info on so that his former students and faculty members of Barat College would be apprised of Nick's passing on August 24th.  Personally, I will treasure my last visit with Nick on May 1, 2011 and most especially the beautiful vase that I purchased that day.  May Nick and all the former lay faculty and rscj of Barat College who have died rest in peace. 

Teacher and sculptor, Nicholas G. Prokos, of 1698 1st Street, a 55 year resident of Highland Park, passed away peacefully on August 24th, 2015 at Highland Park Hospital. Mr. Prokos was born May 17, 1934 in Escanaba, Michigan. He was the fourth son of Greek immigrants, George and Koula Prokos.
“Prok”, as he was nicknamed, was well known in local and regional art communities as an artist, teacher and professor. His son, John, remarks “Dad couldn’t walk more than a block in Highland Park before being greeted by a former student or friend”. He had a major and lasting impact on many throughout his teaching career. His many former students continued to visit him through the years at his home and studio in Highland Park, some traveling from as far away as Japan to visit their beloved professor and teacher.
Mr. Prokos taught ceramics for over 35 years. He received his B.S. from the University of Wisconsin and his M.A. from Wayne State University. As a young man, in 1961, he received his Illinois State Teaching Certificate and secured a position with the Highland Park School District, teaching at Highland Park H.S. In 1963 he opened the studio, Ravinia Stoneware Studio, on Roger Williams Ave. In 1964, he purchased the First Street property and at that location, re-opened the ceramics studio with his wife, awarded book illustrator, Jean Cassels. There, they owned and operated a clay company, created and produced their own work, and taught. Prok would occasionally host other notable potters such as Paul Soldner and Peter Volkous.
In 1969 he began teaching at Barat College in Lake Forest where he earned tenured status and served as Chairman of the Art Department. He was a ceramics professor at Barat for 23 years. He also taught at Lake Forest College, The Art Institute of Chicago, Mundelein College, Eastern Michigan University, and St. Cloud State College.
Mr. Prokos’ works were exhibited nationally and internationally and are in the permanent collections of The Art Institute of Chicago, The Illinois State Museum, Kenosha Art Museum, Springfield Art Association, Wayne State University, South Bend Art Association, and the International Minerals & Chemicals Co.
Mr. Prokos put his artistic talent to work by serving his community. In 1985, he received the Community Service Award from the Illinois Park and Recreation Association for outstanding contributions for the advancement of parks and recreation in the state of Illinois. He also served for many years on the Highland Park Design Review Committee.
Mr. Prokos was passionate about building and flying model airplanes and shared his numerous talents with family, friends, and students. Additionally, he was a talented golfer and a long time member at Sunset Valley Golf Course. He inspired many and will be greatly missed.
Mr. Prokos was preceded in death by his son, George, and is survived by his sons, Michael  (Mindy) and John (Saraswoti), two grandchildren, Nicholas and Chloe, and four brothers, Charles, John, James and Konstantin.
Plans for a memorial service have not been finalized. In lieu of flowers contributions can be made to "The Nicholas Prokos Scholarship Fund" at The Art Center - Highland Park.
Donations may be sent to:
The Art Center-Highland Park
1957 Sheridan Road
Highland Park, IL 60035
Donations can also be made by credit card or paypal online


The following excerpt was taken from page 183 of the book BARAT COLLEGE: A Legacy, a Spirit and a Name “Very suddenly, in July 1972, at the age of forty-five, Father Reicher died from a ruptured appendix.  Barat’s faculty, administration, student body, and his many friends attended his memorial Mass celebrated in the Drake Theatre when the fall semester commenced. The next year, the chair of the Art Department, Nicholas Prokos, established Barat’s first permanent art gallery in honor of Father Reicher. The Reicher Gallery provided an important venue for shows by outside artists as well as senior art majors.”    

To read more about the history of Barat College - contact Martha Curry, RSCJ

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