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Man doesn't let Parkinson's slow him

by BOB CHWEDYK (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald on March 19, 2014 11:00 AM

ROUND LAKE BEACH, Ill. — Retired science teacher Chuck McCann has been doing art shows for 30 years, has five books published, and was once a professional bowler. In fact, the Round Lake Beach resident still bowls three days a week.

But perhaps his greatest accomplishment is coping and living with Parkinson’s disease since 1984, which forced him to retire from teaching because he couldn’t write at the blackboard anymore.

“When I go to paint, I seem to relax completely,” McCann said, “and when I pick up the brush and try to paint a straight line, I usually do. When I pick up a pencil and try to write something, I can’t write for diddly.”

Parkinson’s comes in many varieties, McCann says.

“Some people pass on very quickly. Me, with 30 years, even my doctor doesn’t believe it.”

The 83-year-old College of Lake County student started painting 52 years ago when he painted a dog for his wife, Rita, on their first wedding anniversary.

“We couldn’t have them in the apartment we were in, in Chicago,” McCann said. “Without a dog she was sort of lonesome, so I painted a dog for her, and I just kept going.”

McCann has been a student at CLC for 18 years. During that time, he has painted on virtually everything using various mediums, from acrylic and oil paints, to chalk and pencil.

His canvasses have included rocks and even feathers, but mostly he paints on Masonite, a hardboard made of pressure-molded wood fibers. Once in a while he’ll get a hold of an actual canvas to paint on.

“Bob Lossman, my art instructor, often refers to me as a Renaissance man,” McCann said. “I didn’t find out what that meant until I looked it up.

“I consider myself very, very lucky. I’ve got a wonderful wife and a wonderful life,” he said, “Having Parkinson’s, I don’t know how I can do it. I’m shaking right now.”

McCann said keeping active and not giving up helps him do all the things he does.

“As old as I am, I don’t claim to know everything,” he said. “But I do think I make an impression on people, and they have to say if I can do it, they can do it.”

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