Leon F. Gramley, 66, of Kaneville, died unexpectedly Friday, Jan. 15, 2010, at Delnor Hospital, Geneva.
He was born Oct. 31, 1943, the son of Benjamin and Frances (Flanders) Gramley in Aurora.
Leon grew up in Kaneville and spent his whole life making memories and taking care of his community. He attended local schools and graduated from Kaneland High School in 1962. He attended Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, for a time before graduating from DeVry School of Electronics in Chicago.
Leon married Margaret Myers in 1965, and they were blessed with two sons, Philip in June of 1967 and Stephen in November of 1969. In later years, Leon would say he met the â€œlove of his lifeâ€ in 1991, when he met Mary Fecht, a nurse who worked at Delnor Community Hospital. They were married a year later on Sept. 6, 1992, and shared the love of a lifetime, going to concerts and traveling extensively with Disney World high on their list of favorite destinations.
Shortly after graduation, he enlisted in the United States Army and proudly served his country during the Vietnam War. In December of 1967, Leon returned to civilian life and worked for Illinois Bell. In 1971, he began farming alongside his brother Elmer on the family farm in Kaneville.
Leon was a volunteer fireman with the Kaneville Fire Department, later becoming an EMT and paramedic with Elburn Ambulance for 13 years. He served on the Kaneville Township Board and was elected Kaneville Township Supervisor in 1994. Leon was also the Vice President and sexton for Kaneville Cemetery and was very active in the Kaneville Memorial Day service, serving in the Color Guard and Honor Guard, as well as identifying the graves of all the veterans, making sure no one was ever forgotten.
He devoted his life to the service of his community. Leonâ€™s thoughts were always of family and community first. Whether it was answering phone calls at all hours, going to the community center late into the evening whenever there was a problem, or checking his answering machine nightly while on vacation just in case there was someone in need of his help.
He also was the driving force behind Kaneville Townshipâ€™s designation as a village, dedicating untold hours until it was official in 2007.
Even in death, Leon gave to his community by donating his eyes to those without sight. He was an avid NASCAR fan, cheering on Dale Earnhardt with every turn.
Leon was a man of many talents, though few knew that while growing up Leon took tap dancing for a time and played the French horn as well as the piano. He also was proud of his collection of Mickey Mouse ties, hats and watches.
Every Christmas, Leon made the trip to Marshall Fields, now Macyâ€™s, and brought home two shopping bags full of Frango Mints, which he loved to pass out to family and friends, but his generosity waned when it came to his favorite, Reeseâ€™s Peanut Butter Cups.
Leon was always fixing anything for anyone, from friends to his granddaughters, who were always saying, â€œPapa fix it!â€, though the end result was always â€œneat and tidyâ€ it oftentimes included a fair share of electrical tape and form wire. A â€œpapa band aidâ€ was a folded napkin and electrical tape, which the granddaughters proudly displayed. He will be remembered by many different people for many different things for generations to come, but when anyone thinks about Leon, they all think of the same thing, â€œKaneville.â€
He now leaves his loving wife Mary of Kaneville, three sons, Philip (Christine) Gramley of Chicago, Stephen (Leanne) Gramley and their children Lillian and Robert, of Kaneville, and Albert (Lori) Fecht and their children, Joshua, Hannah and Emilee, of Leland, Ill.; one brother, Elmer (Janet) Gramley and their daughter Sara, of Kaneville, and a countryside full of friends.
He now joins his parents, Ben and Frances Gramley, who preceded him in death.
Visitation will be from 2 to 6 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 21, at Kaneville United Methodist Church, Kaneville. A remembrance service will begin at 6 p.m., where friends and family are encouraged to share their favorite memory of Leon.
A funeral service to celebrate his life will be Friday, Jan. 22, at St. David Episcopal Church at the corner of Randall and Illinois in Aurora, at 1 p.m. The Rev. Susan Holstrom, pastor of the church, will officiate, and interment will follow at Kaneville Cemetery, Kaneville.
Those unable to attend the services at either church may view them live at www.conleycare.com beginning five minutes prior to each service. The services will also be available in an on-demand format 24 to 48 hours after the services at the same website.
In lieu of flowers, a memorial has been established in his name to benefit his favorite charities. Checks may be made to the â€œLeon Gramley Memorialâ€ and mailed in care of P.O. Box 66, Elburn, 60119. Tributes may also be forwarded to the same address or online at www.conleycare.com.