Harry ‘Bus’ Yourell Was a Fighter to End
By Ray Hanania
The first time I met Harry “Bus” Yourell was in 1978 while writing for the Southtown. At the time, he was the Worth Township Democratic Committeeman. I had written something nice about his Republican rival, Herbert V. Huskey, and “Bus” was giving me a piece of his mind.
I don’t remember what it was, but Bus and I had a rocky relationship that never bothered him and that he never shied away from. We were constantly at odds, the way it was supposed to be back then between reporters and politicians.
I don’t know how many times Bus gave me “what for” over the telephone after I published one of my twice weekly columns reporting on Huskey, the Republicans or local politics.
He always had an opinion.
Yourell was always respectful even though we often would lock horns on local politics. He was a strong personality, a politician unafraid to do what he felt was right. He didn’t hide things. If he bought a car to tow his boat down to Florida using his campaign fund, he was never shy about defending his actions.
Not everyone is like that. Some elected officials do things and then are afraid to defend their actions. My feeling has always been if the law allows you to do it, and you do it, then defend it. Why get angry when a story runs detailing how you hired your son or daughter to a government job?
Yourell died last week after a long career in public service. He was successful at government service and politics.
He began his career in 1959, right about the time I was in preschool. He ran a very popular restaurant, Bus’ Drive-in on 95th Street. As a kid, he got the nickname “Bus” because his mother would dress him up like Buster Brown.
He entered government service in 1966 filling a vacancy in the Illinois Legislature. It’s there that he would bump up against Herb Huskey, who was often called “Mr. Republican of the Southwest Suburbs” serving five terms in the Illinois House. Although the region was Democratic, Huskey served during the period when the House was required to have one member in a Senate District from the minority party.
In 1984, Yourell was elected the Cook County Recorder of Deeds. In 1988, he was elected to the Water Reclamation District, where he served 18 years. I often had political issues with the Reclamation District back in those years. That strained our relationship even more, not that Yourell cared. He was too tough to care about what an upstart young reporter thought of him in his columns. But Bus was always respectful.
Bus retired from politics in 2006, the same year that Huskey, his rival, died.
Even in his 80s, Yourell traveled the world, bungee jumping at 85 in New Zealand.
Born in Hammond, Ind., Harry “Bus” Yourell became a legend in Southwest Suburban politics, one of only a handful of government leaders who was fearless in pursuing his political agenda, criticism or not. In contrast, many Southwest Suburban politicians serve like meek minions who do what they are told to do.
Yourell did the “telling,” and he did what he believed was right. He enjoyed the support of a large majority of the voters throughout his life.
Harry “Bus” Yourell lived his life his way, and for that, he deserves a lot of our respect, including mine.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist and media consultant. He can be reached at www.hanania.com.)