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PHOTO BY VIEW FROM ABOVE – WISCONSIN

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‘A Great Deal of Gratitude’

Former county executive reflects on the life of Ray Forgianni

BY JOHN COLLINS
KENOSHA.COM

For decades, Collins was an active member of Kenosha’s civic and political realm. The former Wilson Elementary school teacher was the Kenosha County Clerk and later served 12 years as Kenosha County Executive.

‘A Great Deal of Gratitude’

Former county executive reflects on the life of Ray Forgianni

BY JOHN COLLINS
KENOSHA.COM

For decades, Collins was an active member of Kenosha’s civic and political realm. The former Wilson Elementary school teacher was the Kenosha County Clerk and later served 12 years as Kenosha County Executive.

With the passing of Ray Forgianni, Kenosha lost an icon.

As Kenosha’s unofficial foodie and longtime City Planner, Forgianni was persnickety about both roles. That insistence on quality had an impact on the community that will serve us for generations.

Ray loved food. He hunted grocery stores, farm stands and markets across the region looking for the perfect product. Once he got the goods home, he knew just the perfect way to prepare them for the table.

His brain was a virtual rolodex of restaurants.

Looking for a quaint little Italian bistro in the Chicago suburbs or a fine dining spot in downtown Chicago? Ray had a recommendation.

Traveling to Europe for the first time? Ask Ray.

Recently, our daughter and son-in-law were planning an anniversary trip to Paris and were looking for dining ideas. We called Ray for advice, giving him the name of the hotel they were staying.

Forgianni’s response was classic: “Nice neighborhood. Plenty to do. Great restaurants in walking distance.” He then proceeded to supply a list of dining suggestions, menu options and price points.

He applied that same zest of quality and detail to his planning position at city hall.

Many developers were sent packing after Ray rejected a plan as “not good enough.” He tried to save historic buildings from the wrecking ball. He insisted on sidewalks in new commercial developments so that people could walk places. He wanted Kenosha to be a destination in which we could all take pride without any compromise.

He wanted Kenosha to be a destination in which we could all take pride without any compromise.

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PHOTO BY VIEW FROM ABOVE – WISCONSIN

Kenosha HarborMarket gave Forgianni an opportunity to merge his passions for food and planning.

The HarborPark neighborhood was a factory site until the late 1980s. It was in a place that mattresses and automobiles were built and from which midwestern products were exported.

When the factories had closed, and the buildings were being razed, Ray was instrumental in the redevelopment of the site into a community asset. Ray was among those who planned the area that now includes lakefront condos, museums, walking paths and event spaces.

Kenosha HarborMarket was an opportunity to combine the place that he helped design with his love for food.

Nearly two decades ago, Forgianni and a few others founded this unique market on the Place De Douai.

The Place De Douai is the plaza between the Southport Marina and 56th Street. Ray’s vision was a European style market. Those markets are often seen on a plaza, surrounded by restaurants, with goods being sold out of tents rather than from the back of trucks.

The market quickly became a Saturday tradition and a place to be, and be seen, for Kenosha residents and out-of-town visitors alike. Over the years it expanded to include the two blocks in front of the city’s museums.

Those of us who live in the HarborPark, walk the lakefront promenade, fish in the harbor or enjoy lakefront festivals have much to be thankful for.

Those of us who enjoy strolling through the Kenosha HarborMarket on a lovely Saturday owe a great deal of gratitude.

While Forgianni may no longer be with us, his incredible vision and persnicketiness will forever live on.

Raymond A. “Ray” Forgianni, 71, of Kenosha, passed away from complications of COVID-19, on September 26 at Froedtert South in Kenosha. Visitation will be held from 9 a.m. until noon on Saturday (Oct. 10) at Place de Douai (at the intersection of 2nd Avenue and 56th Street).

The market quickly became a Saturday tradition and a place to be, and be seen, for Kenosha residents and out-of-town visitors alike.

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PHOTO BY VIEW FROM ABOVE – WISCONSIN

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