Irish Man & Woman of the year

☘️ Our 2017 Irish Man & Woman of the year are:


Janet Prader

“I am honored to be the 2017 IMS Irish Woman of the Year. I am very proud of my heritage and I enjoy sharing and celebrating my passion with others. I believe all cultural backgrounds should be valued and celebrated.”

Irish Woman of the year Janet Prader


Janet is the youngest of 3 girls, born in Fort Wayne Indiana. She moved to the Chicagoland area in the 80s and made the Rockford area her home in the early 90s. In 2000, she joined the Rock River Valley Celtic Society Board, serving as their Secretary for many years. They organized and hosted an annual Celtic Fest in Roscoe at Riverside Park and hosted several concerts throughout the years, bringing in quality Irish musicians.

Currently, she has been serving as Treasurer on the Irish Marching Society board for the past 3 years. Janet works with a great group of people who share her passion for promoting Irish heritage and all things Celtic. Professionally, she’s been working with Focus Financial Advisors, Inc. for the past 19 years. She has 2 lovely adult daughters who are equally passionate about their heritage.

Janet’s family history:

“My Paternal Great Grandmother (Mullen) was born in 1873, Glasgow, Scotland (of Irish descent), she was 1 of 7 children. She came to Chicago in 1880, was married in 1898 and raised 2 sons. My Grandfather married and raised his family in Chicago, 1920’s. My Father and his brothers and sister grew up in the Wrigleyville neighborhood. My father had started tracing our family ancestry many years ago, and as a child I found his work to be fascinating and it stuck with me. My daughters are also tracing their ancestry trees.

My Maternal Grandmother (Phelan) was born in 1900, Waterford, Ireland, the oldest of 12. She arrived in the U.S. in 1924, settled in Chicago, and married my Grandfather a few years later. My mother was the oldest of 6 with 2 brothers and 3 sisters, also growing up in the Wrigleyville neighborhood. In the past, my mother attended many of the St. Patrick’s Day parades and parties here in Rockford.” ☘️


William H. Grady

The Irish Gallery of the Ethnic Heritage Museum and the Irish Marching Society of Rockford celebrate William (Bill) Grady as our 2017 Irish Man of the Year.








William H. Grady has a long history of public service in Rockford and Belvidere. Mr. Grady was an official at the Greater Rockford Airport Authority for more than three decades, retiring as executive director in 1988. He is a former member of the board of OSF St. Anthony Medical Center, a longtime member of Rotary, and a past president of the Illinois Public Airports Association. He also was elected to six terms as city treasurer of Belvidere.

Mr. Grady was born in 1923 in rural Dane County, Wisconsin, but grew up in Belvidere. There his father, William M. Grady owned a men’s clothing store. Bill’s great-grandparents, Thomas and Anna Grady were born in Ireland, as were his mother’s parents Daniel and Marguerite Sullivan.

Bill graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1948, with a degree in business administration. His college career was interrupted by the three years he spent as a radar counter-measures specialist with the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II. Also after the war in 1948 he married Patricia Moran Schmitz in Rockford, and they raised six children. Patricia passed away last year. The family now includes 13 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Bill Grady was a charter member and has been a strong supporter over the years of the Irish Marching Society, which sponsors Rockford’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. In the 1950s and 1960s he was active in the Belvidere Little League organization as a coach, umpire, and league official. He also was one of the first lay lectors at St. James Catholic Church in Belvidere after Vatican II. ☘️