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Naomi Simpson Jones

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Naomi Simpson Jones died March 22, 2015, at the home of her daughter and son-in-law, Don and Linda Knudsen.

She was born to the late Albert and Elizabeth Simpson in Washington, Iowa, in 1917.

She is preceded in death by her husband of 72 years, Stanley Jones; her daughter, Judith Jones Nugaris; and her son, James Aston.

She is survived by daughters, Linda (Don) Knudsen of Loveland, Colo., Jackie (John) Shields of Nashville, Jean Jones of Grand Junction, Colo., Darlene Darnall of Clarkston, Wash.; sons, Samuel (Bobbie) of Summitt, Ark., Sam (Ronna) of Sugar Grove and Carl (Karen) of Yelleville, Ark.; and daughter-in-law, Barbara Aston of Louisville, Ken. She is also survived by 21 grandchildren, 35 great-grandchildren and 11 great-great-granchildren.

Naomi and Stan lived in Iowa and Illinois until their retirement. During their years there raising their family, they also served in many leadership positions in the church. Naomi’s appreciation for music led to her role as a choir director for many years. She also had a beautiful singing voice and participated in several choral groups as a soloist and member. While living in Aurora, they founded a Christian retreat house, providing quiet spaces for clergy, missionaries and groups.

They subsequently retired and moved to Grand Junction in 1982. They felt called to the mission field and served in Haiti from 1987 to 1991, living and teaching in several capacities.

She was a longtime member of New Horizons Foursquare Church in Grand Junction, and was a faithful disiple. Her powerful witness will continue through those whose lives she touched. She was an example of “you can preach a better sermon with your life than with your lips.”

Services were held on March 26 at New Horizons Foursquare Church. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be directed to Jewish Voice Ministries International, P.O. Box 31998, Phoenix, AZ 85046, or New Horizons Foursquare Church, 641 Horizon Drive, Grand Junction, CO 81506.

Rosaline ‘Rose’ F. McGrath

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Rosaline “Rose” F. McGrath, 93, of Streamwood, Ill., formerly of Elburn and West Chicago, Ill., passed away peacefully Friday, March 27, 2015, surrounded by the love and prayers of her family.

Rose was born on June 17, 1921, in Chicago to proud parents Stephen and Francis Urban.

Rose is survived by her son, George (Carolyn) McGrath; daughter, Clarice McGrath; three grandchildren, Cindi(Jose) Arroyo, Christine (Keith) Carroll and Cheri (Scott) Crumbly; six great-grandchildren, Arlena (Raymond) Walker, Sarah Barnes, Luke and Ally Carroll, and Jacob and Joshua Crumbly.

Rose is preceded in death by her husband, Wendell; her parents, Stephen and Francis Urban; and her sister, Florence Boehm.

A visitation will take place Thursday, April 2, from 1 to 2 p.m. at Conley Funeral Home, 116 W. Pierce St., Elburn. A funeral service will follow visitation at 2 p.m. at the funeral home. Burial will follow at Blackberry Cemetery, Elburn.

In lieu of flowers, a memorial has been established in Rosaline’s name. Checks may be made to the “Rosaline McGrath Memorial” and mailed in care of P.O. Box 66, Elburn, IL 60119. Tributes may also forwarded to the same address or www.conleycare.com.

For more information, call Conley Funeral Home at (630) 365-6414.

R. Harlan Paydon

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R. Harland Paydon

R. Harlan Paydon, 90, of Batavia, passed away on Saturday, March 28, 2015, at Provena McAuley Manor.

He was born May 4, 1924, in Plainfield, Ill., the son of Joseph and Sybilla Paydon.

Harlan grew up on the family farm. He owned farms in DeKalb and Kane counties.
Harlan worked for Nicor for 35 years and was a member of Wheatland Presbyterian Church. He held a great passion for gardening.

Survivors include his wife, Patricia Beebe Paydon; two grandchildren, Stacey Vanzel and Michael Kleinwachter; a brother, Dean (Clara) Paydon; and three step-children, Shannon, Benjamin and William Fixmer.

In addition to his parents, Harlan was preceded in death by his first wife, Jacqueline Paydon; two sons, Brett and Gale Paydon; and two brothers, Finley and Stephen Paydon.

A visitation was held on Tuesday at The Healy Chapel in Aurora. A funeral service was held Wednesday at Wheatland Presbyterian Church in Plainfield. Pastor Jack Lilley officiated. Interment followed at Wheatland Presbyterian Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be directed to the Multiple Sclerosis foundation.

For further information, call (630) 897-9291 or visit www.healychapel.com to leave an online condolence.

Jean Marian Wiemer

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Jean Marian Wiemer, 84, of St. Charles, passed away in the quiet hours of Sunday evening, March 29, 2015. She now claims the promise of her Savior and rests in his celestial arms.

She was born Feb. 11, 1931, in St. Charles, the daughter of Leonard Clemens and Margaret Maria (Linneman) Wiemer.

Jean always put others before herself, and spent a lifetime nursing and caring for the elderly, as well as small children. Each life she was able to lift up gave her great joy.

She is survived by one brother, LaVerne (Norma) Wiemer; one brother-in-law, Charles Sauber Sr.; many nieces and nephews, and a countryside of friends who will miss her dearly.

She is preceded in death by her parents, Leonard and Margaret Wiemer; her sister, Lorraine Sauber; and one brother, Sylvan Francis (Edith) Wiemer.

Visitation will take place from 10 to 10:45 a.m. on Monday, April 6, at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, 6N491 Crane Road, St. Charles. A Mass will follow visitation at 11 a.m., with interment at Resurrection Catholic Cemetery, Geneva.

In lieu of flowers, a memorial has been established in Jean’s name. Checks may be made to the “Jean Wiemer Memorial” and mailed in care of P.O. Box 66, Elburn, IL 60119. Tributes may also forwarded to the same address or www.conleycare.com.

St. Gall Lenten Stations of the Cross

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ELBURN—St. Gall Church will offer Stations of the Cross for prayerful reflection on Fridays, March 27, at 5:30 p.m., and April 3 at 2 p.m., at the church, 120 W. Shannon St., Elburn.

In the Catholic faith, Lent is a time for fasting, abstinence from meat and prayer in preparation for Easter.

All are invited to attend St. Gall’s Lenten Stations of the Cross reflections. For more information, contact the St. Gall Parish Office at (630) 365-6030 or visit www.stgall.com.

Sugar Grove United Methodist Easter celebration

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SUGAR GROVE—Sugar Grove United Methodist Church (SGUMC) will host its Easter celebration on Holy Saturday, April 4, 10 a.m. to noon at the church, 176 Main St., Sugar Grove.

This is a family event, as the church prepares to celebrate Easter Sunday, complete with crafts, egg dyeing and an Easter egg hunt.

Children will meet in the sanctuary for a chance to sing with the SGUMC choir. Families will then go downstairs to the Sunday school area for crafts and egg dyeing. Bring your own hard boiled eggs.

The SGUMC Good Friday service will take place on Friday, April 3, at 7 pm. Easter Services will take place on Sunday, April 5, at 8 and 10:30 am.

Linda A. Koehling

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Linda A. Koehling, 51, passed away at her home in Sugar Grove on Sunday, March 22, 2015. Linda was born on Oct. 14, 1963, in LaGrange, Ill., the daughter of Henry and Patricia (nee Norrie) Koecher. Linda was united in marriage to her loving husband, Jeff Koehling, on Aug. 14, 1983.

Linda is survived by her husband, Jeff; son, Matthew (Abigail) of Greenwood, Ind.; a daughter, Sarah (Jacob) Anderson of Glen Ellyn, Ill.; her parents, Henry and Patricia Koecher; sisters, Wendy (Simon) VanderNoordaa of Normal, Ill., and Holly (William) Whedbee of Chicago.

Visitation will be on Sunday, March 29, at the First Baptist Church of Geneva (West Campus), 3435 Keslinger Road, Geneva, from 2 to 6 p.m.

Funeral service will be at the First Baptist Church of Geneva, Sunday, March 29, at 6 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Phil’s Friends, 1350 Lake Street Suite C, Roselle, IL 60172 or www.philsfriends.org.

For more information, call Moss-Norris Funeral at (630) 584-2000 or visit MossFuneral.com.

Steven “Steve” Koz

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Steven “Steve” Koz, 58, of Sugar Grove, formerly of North Aurora, passed away suddenly, Sunday, March 22, 2015. Gone too soon, Steve leaves a legacy of love and memories for his family and friends to cherish.

He was born on Sept. 11, 1956, in Chicago, the son of Thomas and Doris (Novak) Koz.
Steve grew up in Warrenville, Ill., and attended local schools. He graduated from Wheaton North High School with the class of 1974. Before he accepted his diploma, Steve played basketball and was involved in gymnastics, while at the same time making a name for himself in automotive, a foundation from which he would later build a career.

Following graduation, Steve proudly enlisted in the United States Navy and served his country from the Great Lakes Naval Base, to Tennessee, to Hawaii and Guam. After being honorably discharged, Steve returned to civilian life and began working at Acme Screw in Wheaton, Ill.

Steve was united in marriage to Faye Bishop and was blessed with an instant family, including an additional daughter of their own two years later. After going their separate ways, he became lucky in love a second time when he met Jamie (Schmidt) Keith on a blind-double-date that instantly linked not only their hearts, but their families as well, which now included Jamie’s daughter. They were united in marriage in 1983. Steve not only was a wonderful husband, but he was built to be a dad. It didn’t matter how they came into his life, Steve was father to four children who became his whole world—at least until the eight grandchildren came along.

Steve called several places home over the years, but North Aurora claimed him for 10 years before he and Jamie settled in Sugar Grove in 1992.

In addition to Acme Screw, Steve worked at Midwest Hydraulics and Motor Equipment before joining the team of RWS in 1993. He also plowed snow with Sitarz Landscaping as a “hobby.”

“Where there is a will, there is a way” was a mantra that Steve built his work ethic on, as his grease-stained hands could attest. He was very proud of not only his service in the Navy, but of all the soldiers who fought to protect his beloved United States of America. He would remind others often that “Freedom is never free.”

Steve was a big time fan of snacking. From Nestle Quick, Chicken in a Biscuit, Thin Mints (an entire case still lives in the freezer), and many more, Steve made sure they were stacked with care in cupboards and the pantry of his home.

Sugar came into his life as a six-week-old puppy, and she quickly became his best buddy, much to the chagrin of his daughters. Sugar got to share all his favorite snacks, but his girls were often left to fend for themselves. When he watched TV, Steve loved Storage Wars, Texas Ranger, Counts Customs, Pawn Stars and various bounty hunter shows, but his guilty pleasure was 90210 (but don’t tell anyone).

His truck was his prized possession, as well as an ongoing project. Steve added “bells and whistles,” making his truck a work of art and one that could be seen, and sometimes heard, from miles and miles away. Steve also loved riding on two wheels—and three when he made his own trike. He enjoyed riding with Jamie on his Honda Valkyrie touring bike, and even after a devastating accident put both their lives in jeopardy, his love of the open road still lived in his heart.

Steve loved hats of all kinds, sporting any likeness or oddity, but his favorite, and most often purchased, were his welder hats. Steve was larger than life and lived on his own terms. He will be missed by many and never forgotten.

He is survived by his loving wife, Jamie; four children, Tammy (Eric) Powell and son, Alex Cleveland; Jennifer (Craig) Borneman and children, Katelyn, Kelly and Evan Borneman; Mindy (Angela) Koz and children, Brendan and Emily Bales; Gretchen (Scott) Hammer and children, Nicholas and William Hammer; his mother, Doris Koz; his sister, Peggy Benton; brothers and sisters-in-law, Steve (Linda) Schmidt, Gary (Debbie) Schmidt, Bob (Carol) Schmidt, Marsha Schmidt, Debby Quackenbush, Sharon (Gary) Spatafora; mother-in-law, Helen Spurgin; many nieces, nephews, cousins, his former son-in-law, David Cleveland, as well as a family of friends.

He is preceded in death by his father, Thomas, sister, Kathryn Johnson; and father-in-law, Bud Spurgin.

Visitation will be from 3 to 7 p.m., with a funeral service to begin at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, March 26, at Conley Funeral Home, 116 W. Pierce St., Elburn, IL 60119. Pastor Alan Gum, Hope Evangelical Lutheran Church, West Chicago, will officiate. Private family burial will follow cremation at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, a memorial has been established in Steve’s name. Checks may be made to the “Steven Koz Memorial” and mailed in care of P.O. Box 66, Elburn, IL 60119. Tributes may also be forwarded to the same address or on www.conleycare.com.

Johan Gregory Richards

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Johan Gregory Richards, 26, of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., and formerly of rural Sugar Grove, passed away unexpectedly on Feb. 21, 2015. Born on June 4, 1988, Johan was a sweet and kind boy who grew up to be a good and caring young man.

In his youth, Johan enjoyed basketball, football and strategic games. He also delighted in playing the piano and was active in Cub Scouts. As he grew, he picked up the guitar and became quite the fisherman, especially enjoying summer trips to Canada.

Johan attended Kaneland schools, graduating with the class of 2006. During this time, he was also enrolled at the Fox Valley Career Center, where he excelled in Residential Electrician I and II, achieving First Place in the state of Illinois 2006 Skills USA Competition.

After high school, Johan attended Waubonsee Community College and later moved to Cincinnati, where he attended Kaplon College, receiving the diploma of Electrical Technician. For the past two years, south Florida has been his home. Here he worked for Innovatrix Suspension in West Palm Beach.

Johan loved the ocean, which gave him great peace. He enjoyed spending time with his friends, snorkeling in the intercostal waters and listening to live music, especially bluegrass.

He will be dearly missed by his mother, Anna M. Richards; and his sister, Leah M. Richards, both of Sugar Grove; his father, Gregory S. (Sue) Richards of Pomfret, Md.; his grandparents, Charlotte Meek of North Aurora, Marlene and Richard Garrigues of Sebring, Fla., and Louise Richards of Ellenton, Fla.; aunts and uncles, Mary Jane (Lewie) Turk; and cousins, Eleanor and Ed of Valparaiso, Ind., Jennifer (Roy) Pfingsten of Sycamore, and Brad (Debbie) Richards; Jason and Jeremy and their families of Ocala, Fla.; as well as many other aunts, uncles, cousins and good friends.

He is preceded in death by his grandfathers, Stafford D. Meek Jr. and Owen Richards.

A private memorial service to celebrate Johan’s life will be held at his childhood home later this summer.

Good food, Good fellowship

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St. Gall's 132nd Annual St. Patrick's Day Turkey Dinner took place Sunday. The parish opened its doors to guests to celebrate and feast in honor of St. Patrick's Day. The dinner included turkey, homemade mashed potatoes, green beans, corn, cranberry sauce, coleslaw, rolls and desserts. 'O'Cheryl' Lee of Lily Lake served coleslaw. 							Photo by Lynn Logan
St. Gall's 132nd Annual St. Patrick's Day Turkey Dinner took place Sunday. The parish opened its doors to guests to celebrate and feast in honor of St. Patrick's Day. The dinner included turkey, homemade mashed potatoes, green beans, corn, cranberry sauce, coleslaw, rolls and desserts. 'O'Cheryl' Lee of Lily Lake served coleslaw. 							Photo by Lynn Logan
St. Gall’s 132nd Annual St. Patrick’s Day Turkey Dinner took place Sunday. The parish opened its doors to guests to celebrate and feast in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. The dinner included turkey, homemade mashed potatoes, green beans, corn, cranberry sauce, coleslaw, rolls and desserts. ‘O’Cheryl’ Lee of Lily Lake served coleslaw. Photo by Lynn Logan
St. Gall Catholic Church celebrates 132nd St. Patrick’s Day dinner
ELBURN—For the 132nd year, St. Gall Catholic Church parishioners served their annual St. Patrick’s Day turkey dinner on Sunday, March 15.

Diners who attend the dinner always have the option to sit down at the church parish hall or carry out from the Elburn American Legion. The meal includes turkey, real mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, corn, green beans, rolls, cranberry sauce, cole slaw, Irish soda bread and pies galore.

“There’s a story out that the parish tried to do a corned beef and cabbage dinner one year during World War II,” said Carrie Walter, church secretary and communications direction at St. Gall. “But it was so expensive, they went back to turkey.”

Walter said the turkeys have been provided by Ho-Ka Turkey Farm in Waterman, Ill., for as long as she can remember. Ho-Ka turkeys are free range and minimally processed with nothing added.

With meals priced from $5 for childrens meals to $12 for carry-outs, Walter said funds raised are earmarked for liturgical materials purchased by the Altar and Rosary Society.

Walter said hundreds of parishioners spend at least two days preparing for the meal and another serving it.

“And that doesn’t account for all the time spent making pies. I think all the parishioners donate pies,” she said.

Their work was rewarded this year, with about 400 carryout meals sold and nearly 300 diners eating at the Parish Hall.

“Turnout was very good,” Walter said. “I think the nice weather definitely brought people out.”

Not only is the St. Patrick’s Day dinner an opportunity for a good meal, but it’s a chance to catch up with friends and neighbors.

“One of the reasons we do it is that’s a community-building event,” Walter said. “So many people come to sit down and catch up. We hear a lot of stories of people who haven’t seen each other since last year. It gives you something to look forward to.”

Bill Jeter

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Bill Jeter, 72, of Elburn, passed away, following a long battle with COPD, at Delnor Hospital, Geneva, on Sunday, March 15, 2015.

He was born Sept. 14, 1942, in Aurora, the son of Forrest and Lorna Jeter.
Bill grew up on Harter Road in Kaneville and attended local schools. He graduated from Kaneland High School after commuting to school with Norm Bergquist on their motorcycles year-round.

Directly after graduating, Bill enlisted in the United States Navy and proudly served his country until his honorable discharge in 1960.

Bill and Karen Magill were united in marriage on June 24, 1967, at St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church in Maple Park.

They began their new life together in Elburn on Gates Street before settling a few blocks away on Kansas Street for the next 41 wonderful years.

Bill worked, as many did of his generation, at the Elburn Packing Plant. He also worked for both UPS and the state of Illinois for a short time before beginning a 27-year career at Country Gas. Bill retired to care for Karen as her health began to decline. After her passing in 2008, Bill continued to live in Elburn until his own health declined, as well.

Bill loved football, NASCAR, World War II planes, and animals, and not necessarily in that order. He was a big fan of the Chicago Bears, and was able to cheer them on in person once a year, surrounded by his buddies. According to Bill, no one could drive like Earnhardt Sr. and most recently Kyle Busch. If you had any question on World War II, you didn’t have to go any further, because he was a walking encyclopedia on the life and times of that era. There wasn’t an animal on Earth that Bill didn’t have a soft spot for, especially the pets on his trucking routes whom he knew almost as well as their owners.

He is survived by his son, Tom “Red” (Debi) Jeter; and several nieces and nephews.

He is preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Karen Jeter; and one daughter, Tracey Madden.

Visitation will take place from 4 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 19, at Conley Funeral Home, 116 W. Pierce St., Elburn. A graveside service will take place on Friday, March 20, 11 a.m. at Kaneville Cemetery, Kaneville.

In lieu of flowers, a memorial has been established in Bill’s name. Checks may be made to the “William Jeter Memorial ” and mailed in care of P.O. Box 66, Elburn, IL 60119. Tributes may also forwarded to the same address or at www.conleycare.com, where you can find his full-life story.

Christian Women’s Connection March 19

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SYCAMORE—The program “Peace in the Midst of Turmoil” will take place Thursday, March 19, at noon at Blumen Gardens, 325 Edwards St., Sycamore.

The afternoon’s special feature will be Rhythm Instruments performing “Name That Tune.” Inspirational speaker Judy Dagraedt will read “Peace in the Midst of Turmoil.”

The cost of admission is $10, and includes a meal.

Reserve a space by Monday, March 16, by calling Lorraine Woodstrup at (815) 895-6739 or emailing glendasmith318@yahoo.com.

Pillar of the community

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Photos: Much of longtime Elburn resident Bill Hewitt’s life is tied to St. Gall Church. His mother Clara lived in a house that is now the site of St. Gall’s garden, and the church was present in the lives of his siblings.

Longtime Elburn resident looks back on St. Gall Church legacy
ELBURN—When Bill Hewitt stands in front of St. Gall Catholic Church’s garden, he doesn’t see the statue of the Virgin Mary or the plant stalks just beginning to peek through the winter snow.

He sees the place he grew up.

The garden, located at the southeast corner of Gates and Pierce streets, occupies the site of the house Hewitt’s family lived for nearly 100 years. The family sold the house to the church after Hewitt’s mother died in 1998, but he has fond memories of the Elburn of old.

Mary Jane and Marlene Hewitt, the youngest of the Hewitt’s six children, play in their backyard in the late 1950s.
Mary Jane and Marlene Hewitt, the youngest of the Hewitt’s six children, play in their backyard in the late 1950s.

Like many longtime Elburn residents, Hewitt’s own personal history has been intertwined with that of his neighbors—including St. Gall and its resident priests.

His grandfather, William Deckert, built the house at what was 155 W. Pierce St. around 1900, and his mother, Clara Deckert Hewitt, was born there in 1914. She spent her entire life in the house, living there with her own husband and children—Bill is the second of her six children—and then later in life with her friend, Wilma Keller.

“There used to be a porch out here,” Hewitt remembered. “People ask me, ‘How long has that parking lot been there?’ Not that long.”

The Deckert family had lived on Pierce Street for nearly a quarter-century before St. Gall became their neighbor in 1924. Back then, the new church building shared the block between Shannon and Pierce streets, with several other families and a barn.

Ninety years later, most of the original buildings have been replaced by a new rectory, a parish hall, a larger parking lot, and a garden as St. Gall’s membership grew, but much of the neighborliness remains.

St. Gall's first rectory
St. Gall’s first rectory

Hewitt, who was born in 1936 and has lived in Elburn his entire life, remembers when Heine Schroeder’s barn stood where St. Gall’s parking lot stands now. Schroeder raised potatoes and chickens there—just about everyone raised chickens, Hewitt recalls, and one of his jobs as a child was to feed his family’s flock.

The church, which was founded as a mission church in 1851 and known as Hill Church, was originally located on Keslinger Road in Maple Park, near Kuipers Farm. As the population in the area grew, Hill Church split into St. Mary’s Church in Maple Park, then known as Lodi, and St. Gal—spelled with one L—in downtown Elburn. St. Gal, the first Catholic Church in Elburn, was built near the corner of First and Swain streets from pale limestone in 1870 and had 50 member families. By 1911, the congregation was large enough to become a parish and be assigned its own resident priest, Father Daniel Drennan, by the archdiocese.

By 1924, the parish needed a larger building. It began construction on the present-day church on Shannon Street and purchased the white house at 114 Gates St. to be the new rectory.

Bill Hewitt’s mother, Clara Deckert Hewitt, lived in this house on Gates St. from 1914 to 1998. The location is now the site of St. Gall’s garden.
Bill Hewitt’s mother, Clara Deckert Hewitt, lived in this house on Gates St. from 1914 to 1998. The location is now the site of St. Gall’s garden.

Elburn resident Eugene Ryan, better known as “Jumbo” to his friends, was the first baby baptized in the new church when it opened in December 1925. At 89, Ryan is the oldest living member of St. Gall today.

But St. Gall’s boom times did not last long. Soon after the 1929 stock market crash, many Elburn families began moving away in search of work during the Great Depression—so many that St. Gall had just 31 families remaining and could no longer support a resident priest, forcing the church to become a mission church again for a decade.

One of four children born to the family in the depths of the Great Depression—his two youngest sisters, Mary Jane and Marlene, were born several years later, after World War II—Hewitt saw the Depression and the war through a child’s eyes.

“Nobody had any money, so I remember we had hardly any candy and no ice cream, because we couldn’t afford it,” he recalled.

The limestone blocks of the earlier St. Gal Church, torn down in the late 1920s, had been stored in a local barn, and when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt created the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1933 to put people back to work, one of the projects that came to Elburn was building shelters for Elburn Forest Preserve and nearby Johnson’s Mound.

1st St Gal 5“They hired some men and built the shelters, and all the stone used there was from the first church,” said Laura Chaplin, St. Gall’s director of Liturgy. “It was hewn stone, limestone blocks.”

By the time the Depression finally gave way to World War II, Hewitt’s father was working at Burgess-Norton Manufacturing in Geneva, which was producing tank parts, and the family was saving metal cans.

“They’d collect them, down at Schwartz’s Meat Market (now Ream’s), and we’d take the paper off and crush them for the war effort,” he recalls.

Elburn’s population recovered enough that St. Gall could once again support a resident priest by 1940, and the archdiocese assigned Father Leonard Guzzardo, the church’s longest-serving priest, who lived just a few doors down from Hewitt for 20 years.

Lois Hewitt.
Lois Hewitt

Guzzardo lived in the rectory at 114 Gates St., along with his father and a little dog, until the current rectory was built on Shannon Street in 1952. Village President Dave Anderson, who has attended St. Gall his entire life, served as an altar boy in the early 1950s and remembers Father Guzzardo well.

“He was a great priest, a very holy man,” Anderson recalled. “He had a temper if the collections were not what he thought it should be—it could get him worked up—but personally I got along very well with him.”

Anderson accompanied Father Guzzardo on summer trips to deliver collection envelopes to parish members’ houses throughout the area.

“He would call my mother and say, ‘I’m going to get David and we’re going to go deliver envelopes,’ and we’d get out on some country roads. And boy, would we travel. He had a lead foot,” Anderson said with a laugh.

Guzzardo also had a sense of timing.

Father Leonard Guzzardo, the longest-serving priest at St. Gall Catholic Church, outside his rectory.
Father Leonard Guzzardo, the longest-serving priest at St. Gall Catholic Church, outside his rectory.

“We had a family (in the parish) who lived south and west of Kaneville, and they had an outdoor swimming pool in their yard,” Anderson said. “He’d say, ‘Bring a towel and a swimsuit,’ and every year, he’d work it out so that we were at these folk’s home always in time to go swimming.”

What Joan Ryan, the wife of Jumbo Ryan, remembers most about Father Guzzardo, though, was his kindness. When the two were married in 1949, Joan wasn’t Catholic and the couple wasn’t eligible to be married in the church.

“We just ran away, and we were married the first time down in Aurora with a justice of the peace, and the captain of the police force was our witness,” she said. “When we came home, (Jumbo’s) mother said, ‘Don’t you think you’d better go see the priest?’”

Father Guzzardo immediately blessed the couple’s marriage in the rectory’s office—a house that the Ryan’s daughter, Deborah Ryan Kennedy, later bought and lived in for decades—and gave Joan instructions on how to become a Catholic.

“(Father Guzzardo) was like your brother,” Joan said. “He was awfully nice, and he was the longest-residing priest. He knew everybody, and the whole town knew him.”

The Ryans lived in the house directly behind the rectory, on Babcock Street, when they first got married. Once known as “the O’Brien house,” it had originally stood near St. Gall and was moved when the church bought the land.

The Hewitt’s Ford, parked in their driveway on Gates St.
The Hewitt’s Ford, parked in their driveway on Gates St.

Joan remembered running through her backyard to Father Guzzardo’s rectory one day, when Jumbo was supposed to be the best man in a friend’s wedding but didn’t have a pair of black dress shoes.

“I said, ‘Do you have some black shoes that (Jumbo) could borrow?’ and he took the shoes off his feet and gave them to me so that he could wear them in the wedding,” she recalled.

It was the kind of friendly act that defined the people of Elburn in those days, regardless of which church they attended.

Hewitt remembers the kindness of the O’Brien family, who lived near him growing up, until the land was sold to the church and the house moved to Babcock Street.

It was a time before vaccinations were available, and quarantines were common. Hewitt caught scarlet fever in 1946 and was quarantined in his house for 30 days, along with his older brother, Jim, and two younger sisters, Lois and Delores.

“We had to stay in the house, and we couldn’t go outside,” he recalled. “We had sore throats and fevers, joints that ached.”

When his cousin, Charles Nash, came down with scarlet fever, the O’Briens took Charles in for 30 days of quarantine so that the Nash family wouldn’t have to close their hotel.

“They lived there with the other tenants in the hotel, and because of it being a hotel, (Charles) couldn’t live there,” Hewitt recalled. “He moved into the O’Brien house. They were just friends. That’s how things worked in those days: I’ll help you, you help us. They actually took care of him. That’s how things were—it wasn’t greedy like it is nowadays.”

Anderson, who was born in Elburn in 1944 and has lived here all his life, isn’t at all surprised by such neighborly acts of kindness in Elburn.

St. Gall's second rectory
St. Gall’s second rectory

“I feel that it was idyllic, in all honesty,” he said. “We had a community, and there were a couple of instances that I can remember specifically where a family or an individual in town needed help, and they community got behind it in a heartbeat and did things to ease the pain, ease the burden, ease the responsibilities on the particular individual or individuals that were having a difficult time. In my opinion, the folks that moved into Elburn moved here for the community. That’s what they were seeking.”

Though the neighborhood around St. Gall has changed with time—as has much of Elburn—Anderson doesn’t think the physical changes are important.

“I don’t think, in my mind, that the loss of physical structures has anything to do with the character of a community. I believe that the character of a community has to do more with the attitude and the acceptability of the residents,” he said. “It was a magnificent place to grow up.”

1st St Gal 2

Alef named to Maryville University dean’s list

in Hometown by

ST. LOUIS—Theresa Alef of Maple Park was recently named to the Maryville University dean’s list for the fall 2014 semester. Alef is currently studying occupational therapy at the university.

Maryville undergraduate students are eligible for the dean’s list when they complete at least 12 Maryville University credit hours in a semester with a minimum of a 3.5 grade-point average on a 4.0 (perfect) scale.

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