Photo: Myrna and Bill Smar (top row) with Raulene and Tom Kuebelbeck. Courtesy Photo
ELBURN—Bill Smar is an Elburn Lions Club member who works on publicity.
Recently, Smar thought about his late friend Tom Kuebelbeck.
“Well, I was at the club,” Smar said. “And I was just looking around and I said, ‘I wonder how many folks are actually here because of Tom?’”
Kuebelbeck and Smar worked at FAA on the Aurora site as supervisors.
Kuebelbeck had been an Elburn Lions Club member, former president, served on the park board and sponsored several people to become members of Elburn Lions Club and recruited numerous folks to pitch in and lend a hand.
Elburn Lions Club assists blind and visually impaired people and supports charitable causes. Elburn Days is the club’s biggest fundraiser.
Kuebelbeck died in 2009. However, he is still very much remembered.
“When he introduced me to the folks at the club—and you just see the interest and engagement in making things better for the community,” Smar said. “And especially for those that can’t see and seeing impaired.”
Jim Lipsett, Elburn Lions Club member, had also worked with Kuebelbeck at FAA.
Lipsett has a son, Cory, 23 years old, senior at Northern Illinois University. He is visually impaired.
Cory had cancer in the retinas of his eyes as a baby.
Kuebelbeck learned about Cory’s situation.
“He actually came up to me and he said, ‘Hey, if your son Cory—if he ever needs a guide dog, just let me know,’” Lipsett said.
A guide dog can cost $40,000. Thanks to Kuebelbeck and the Elburn Lions Club, Cory has a guide dog named Ragin.
Raulene Kuebelbeck, widow of Tom, reflected on her husband’s life.
“He enjoyed life, enjoyed being with people,” she said. “He had a wonderful work ethic. He was pretty flexible—but not always. And he felt you should always give people a shot at something.”
Kuebelbeck gave his time working the grill for club-sponsored catered events and picnics.
He could be seen grinning while grilling up tasty pork chops and chicken. As for the pork chops, Smar revealed it has a “bunch of different spices and salts.”
“There was nothing better than having the perfect pork chop,” Raulene said.
“When the pork chops and the chicken were all done, to have that meat turn out great was the ultimate. And that’s it for all of the guys that work on that grill.
When they get out there and start grilling—that is what they do.”
Dan Hannemann, Elburn Lions Club member, remembers the man as someone who gave encouragement.
“Anytime I’m down at that club, I think Tom Kuebelbeck’s standing next to me,” Hannemann said. “He’s still there and we’re working side by side. That is how much of a force he was in my opinion. His presence was down there.”