by Susan Oâ€™Neill
Jim Wilhelm was surprised on Friday night when he received the Citizen of the Year award at the Sugar Grove Corn Boil.
â€œNot too much gets by me,â€ Wilhelm said, smiling and shaking his head.
Wilhelmâ€™s family, friends and employees shared in the celebration with him.
â€œHe will do anything for anybody,â€ his wife Stephanie said. â€œHeâ€™d give you the shirt off his back.â€
Their neighbors agree with her assessment. When a bad storm came through Sugar Grove last summer, a couple of trees fell on Kahl and Lorainne Kinneyâ€™s new roof. Although it was a holiday, J&S Construction owner Wilhelm and his employees showed up and not only removed the trees, they came back after dark to fill in the holes left in their yard.
Wilhelm knew that the Kinneyâ€™s insurance would not cover the damage, because the storm was an act of God. When Kahl saw Wilhelmâ€™s bill, he said, â€œWhat else do I owe you?â€ Wilhelm told him, â€œYou can just wave when I drive by.â€
The Kinneys are not the only recipients of Wilhelmâ€™s generosity and hard work. The Corn Boil Committee received letters of support for Wilhelmâ€™s nomination from the Sugar Grove Library, Village Hall, the Farmerâ€™s Market, as well as a number of other residents.
But Wilhelm’s modestly deflected the praise.
â€œItâ€™s not just me,â€ Wilhelm said. â€œItâ€™s all my guys; my company and my friends. They do all the work.â€
Friend John Guddendorf said that Wilhelm tries to bring to the community what it needs.
â€œHe brings everybody together to get it done,â€ he said.
In addition to helping out his neighbors, Wilhelm has contributed his assistance and resources to many other projects, including the Little League Field in Kaneville and providing lights, heavy equipment, man power, and shuttles for the annual Corn Boil.
A 22-year resident of Sugar Grove, Wilhelm and his wife of almost 20 years have 3 daughters Samantha 19, Abbie 14, Halley 10 and one son, Shawn 8.
â€œHeâ€™s the best dad,â€ Samantha said. â€œHe puts everybody before himself.â€
The Citizen of the Year award was established in 1998 by the village of Sugar Grove and the Sugar Grove Chamber of Commerce & Industry to recognize an individual or group that best exemplifies Sugar Groveâ€™s pioneering spirit.
Previous winners include Karen McCannon, Joe Wolf and Pat Graceffa.