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End of the Line for Metra Commuter after 40 Years

Orland Park woman takes last ride home after 40 years of riding the rails.

Cathy Lia was just an Oak Lawn teenager when she started taking Metra to her job in downtown Chicago in 1972.

The resident stepped off a Metra train at the 80th Avenue station in Tinley Park for the last time last Wednesday.

She was greeted by her husband, three shouting daughters and a handful of other relatives with flowers and posters as she ended her 40-year career as a commuter.

Daughter Christine Pieper came in from Wayne, Ill., to greet her mom one last time, as did daughter Erin Johnson, who only had to come from Manhattan, Ill.

“This was my last ride,” she said after getting hugs all around by her loving family.

Lia is trading her job of 28 years at a Loop law firm for a position as baby sitter for her granddaughter and a few days a week with her husband, Thomas, at the Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board in Orland Park.

“When I first started, I caught the train in Oak Lawn,” she said. “Monthly tickets were only $29 back then and Sears Tower wasn’t even built yet.” 

Over the years, Lia has been a regular Metra passenger boarding at the Oak Lawn station, Oak Forest station and, most recently, at the 80th Avenue station.

“I took the train to 10 different locations,” she said, adding that most rides were uneventful, but not all. 

“One time, we hit a garbage truck,” she said with a laugh. “Another time we hit a man on a bicycle. Today, the train had to stop so someone could be taken off for an ambulance.” 

She resisted efforts to tear up her last multi-ride ticket. 

“I’m giving it to my daughter Stephanie,” she said.

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Erin Johnson August 14, 2012 at 02:41 AM
Yay Mom! We are so happy for you and are thankful that you will be watching Blake!
Marianne Jamrok August 15, 2012 at 09:59 PM
Congratulations, Cathy--what an accomplishment! Best wishes as you begin the next phase. It will be fun!
lwwarfel August 23, 2012 at 09:13 PM
Cathy and I Jazzercise together, and I always appreciate her smile, positive attitude and strong work ethic. I know she will be missed downtown. Her grandson will truly be blessed.

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