Tag Archives: Ray Christiansen


Old-fashioned Christmas celebration in Kaneville

by Susan O’Neill

KANEVILLE—Celebrate the season with an old-fashioned Christmas in Kaneville on Saturday, Dec. 7.

The festivities will begin at 8:30 a.m. in front of the Kaneville Community Center at Harter and Main Street roads, with the inaugural lighting of the community Christmas tree donated by Kaneville business Strang Landscaping. Community members are encouraged to bring an ornament that represents their family to place on the tree. Children from the Kaneville Community Center Child Care Center will assist in decorating the tree.

Santa will pose for pictures taken with children in attendance at the Kaneville fire barn from 9 a.m. to noon.

Jim Feece will bring his team of horses and his antique wagon and put them on display over by the historical houses across from the Fire Department. Kaneville board member Carl Hauser will drive an antique tractor as a hayrack ride for people in town.

Across the street, the historic 1840’s Farley House will be open 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. for visitors who wish to take a step back in time. The Christmas tree will be decorated with old-fashioned, hand-made items for the children to pick from its branches, Kaneville Historical Society Lynnette Werdin said.

A display of manger scenes donated by families in the area from their Christmases past will decorate the house.

“We try to make it a nice day, especially for the children,” Werdin said.

Hill’s Country Store owner Pat Hill will show her appreciation for its customers by offering free peppermint ice cream, hors d’oeuvres and desserts. The Old Second Bank’s Kaneville branch will also host a Customer Appreciation Day, with breakfast food and drinks, as well as gifts for the children, and raffle items for children and adults.

Stop by the Kaneville United Methodist Church at 46W764 Main Street Road between 9 and 11 a.m. for the church’s annual Cookie Walk. Add to your collection of Christmas goodies at the bake sale in the Kaneville Community Center gym from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. And while you’re there, you might find a craft item for someone on your Christmas list.

Kaneville Public Library Director Ray Christiansen said he is looking forward to the activities at the library open house from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Children are invited to make and take a Christmas ornament, and several times throughout the morning, children can sit and listen to a Christmas story. Music students of former Kaneville resident Elyse Napoli will play their instruments in an ongoing recital performance beginning at 10:30 a.m. Door prizes and basket raffles will be offered throughout the day.

Craft show coordinator Karen Flammond is still looking for more crafters for the sale. Those interested should call (630) 557-2854. To donate bake sale items, call Hill at (630) 557-2228.

“We’re really working hard (to make it a nice event),” Hill said.

Kaneville remembers former village president

by Cheryl Borrowdale
KANEVILLE—Bob Rodney was known to many Kaneville residents as the meticulous village president who got things done, but to his grandchildren, he was simply “Mayor Bob-Bob.”

Though he lost a two-year battle with cancer on July 20, residents and family said that he would be remembered for his role in incorporating the village of Kaneville, for serving as Kaneville’s first village president and for his devotion to his family.

The nine years he lived in Kaneville were marked by efforts to improve the community, which began almost as soon as the Rodneys moved to the village from Bolingbrook in 2003.

“Bob wanted to make a difference in the small town we chose to call home,” his wife Georgia Rodney said.

The Rodneys had chosen Kaneville as their adopted town after Bob retired from GTE Automatic Electric, where he had worked as an electrical engineer and then in management. He wanted to retire in the country, and the couple enjoyed living in a small community where their home backed up to a farmer’s field and a neighbor had horses, Georgia said.

But retirement didn’t last long for Bob, who loved being active and involved. He briefly became a freelance technical writer for Lucent Technologies, Georgia said, but she convinced him to stay home and enjoy his retirement. That’s when he started becoming involved in Kaneville politics and policies, she said.

“I think it all started when Bob would go to the Purple Store—now Hill’s Country Store—on Main Street,” she said.

He’d get up early on Sunday and head to Hill’s after breakfast, saying that he was going to get the paper, Bob’s daughter Sharon Rodney said.

“What he really did was hang out with ‘his cronies,’ as my mom would say, and shoot the breeze for hours,” Sharon said.

For Bob, it was an informal community forum.

“He and many of the other residents would discuss issues, desires for the community, problems and pluses,” Georgia said. “The ins and outs of Kaneville politics and policies—that was Bob’s delight.”

By 2006, one of the pressing issues facing Kaneville was whether to incorporate the village as a municipality, said Ray Christiansen, director of the Kaneville Library.

“There were a lot of people really pushing for the incorporation of Kaneville, and early on Bob stepped up and said he’d be interested in helping,” Christiansen said. “He got involved because they had public meetings. His was a voice that people listened to.”

Though the village had been operating like a town for more than 100 years, residents never needed to officially incorporate until neighboring villages began expanding toward Kaneville, and the town needed to define its borders, Christiansen said. Alongside Township Supervisor Leon Gramley, Bob stepped into a leadership role, researching the issue, talking to residents, negotiating the town’s boundary lines and persuading a state senator to present the application in the Illinois legislature.

When the incorporation was successful in 2007, he ran to become the village’s first president. It was a challenging position, but he thrived on it.

“Being the first president of a new village would be a challenge for anybody,” Christiansen said. “He really rose to it. Being a public official is tough, whether it’s in Kaneville or in Chicago. He did his best for his town.”

Though not everyone agreed with the decisions the new Village Board made, Bob helped get the community to discuss issues.

“He was most proud of the fact that his efforts brought many of Kaneville’s residents together, to both agree and disagree on specific village issues,” Georgia said.

Those who worked with him remembered him as a detail-oriented person who made sure things got done well.

Christiansen remembers working with Bob during the first year of his presidency to help put together documents for the village. Their offices were just across the hall from each other in the Kaneville village center, Christiansen said, and so they worked together frequently.

“There were many occasions where he would come to me for help getting information and documents,” Christiansen said. “We worked together to build the kind of library and records that a Village Board should have.”

Pat Hill, a village trustee and the owner of Hill’s Country Store, described Bob as a meticulous man who cared about getting things right.

“Bob was very precise,” she said. “If there was something that needed to be done, he got it done. He investigated it, he researched it, and he brought it back to the board.”

Hill praised his willingness to thoroughly investigate an issue before making a decision.

“He was totally the most thorough person I ever knew in my life,” she said. “We’ll miss his knowledge and his input on things (on the board).”

Christiansen agreed that Bob’s thoroughness was one of his best traits.

“He was very well organized, and even if he didn’t personally do something, he would get people engaged and try to get them to work together,” Christiansen said. “He was a very thoughtful man. He wouldn’t shoot from the hip. If he was asked a question, he would always stop and think it through, and you knew whatever answer he gave had been thoroughly considered. You didn’t always agree with him, but you knew any opinion he gave had been carefully reasoned. He always made sure that the I’s were dotted and the T’s were crossed and that everything was as it should be.”

Among his many contributions to the village as president, Bob represented Kaneville at the Metro West Council of Government meetings, where representatives from municipalities in Kane, DeKalb and Kendall met monthly to share concerns; discuss pending state and federal legislation; and address regional issues, such as growth, transportation and water conservation.

Hill said that Bob’s involvement in the Metro West Council helped the village determine how to resolve many of its own issues.

“He would find out about something, and he’d be very informative,” Hill said. “It helped us as we were all enacting and creating our own ordinances for the village.”

Christiansen said that he appreciated Bob’s strong support of Kaneville’s library programs.

“He was truly an advocate of libraries and reading,” Christiansen said. “When the library’s 75th anniversary was coming up, I said to him, ‘You know what would be really nice, Bob? If the Village Board issued a proclamation about it.’ And he said to me, ‘You know, I don’t think we’ve ever issued a proclamation. Let me find out how to do that.’ Not only did he do it, but he came to the anniversary celebration and spoke about his love of libraries.”

That love of reading translated into action several times.

“He and Georgia would go out of their way to find materials for the library and donate it,” Christiansen said. “When budget cuts were causing us to shut down some of our programming, he persuaded the Village Board to help keep our children’s programming running here. He believed libraries were vital to communities, and he loved this village and would do anything he could to make it a better place.”

His close relationship with his wife, Georgia, his four daughters and his seven grandchildren gave him a reputation among his colleagues as a family man.

“His wife and his daughters, they are super people,” Hill said. “And I know he really loved his grandkids.”

Georgia’s habit of always calling for her husband twice led to his being nicknamed “Mayor Bob-Bob” among his family.

“(She would be) trying to get his attention to come to dinner, help her with something or whatever, (calling) ‘Bob! Boobbbb!,’” Sharon said. “So (my son) Rhett thought his name was Bob-Bob. My sisters and I called him Mayor Bob-Bob after that—President Bob-Bob seemed too formal.”

Despite his image in the village as a careful, detail-oriented man, Sharon remembers her father as a jokester.

“He was a pun kind of guy,” she said. “His grandkids would always ask what grandma was making for dinner, and he’d say, everytime, ‘Bugs and worms! Yum!’”

He loved taking his grandchildren on rides on his John Deere, and also enjoyed fishing, woodworking, photography and old cameras.

Daughter Carol Moore said that she hoped to follow in the example her parents set.

“He was the type of guy who, when I asked him for help with algebra, one problem took all night. He would never tell me the answer; he would ‘coach’ me through it,” she said. “Of course, being young, I would get totally frustrated and irritated. I thought he wasn’t being fair. (But now) I wouldn’t trade that parenting for all the money in the world; I feel 100 percent certain that, along with my mom, he provided me with the ability to have the confidence to do whatever I want to do in life.”

Though Bob wasn’t a sentimental man, he could be counted on, Sharon said.

“I remember my dad saying to me, when I needed help from my family, ‘That’s what family is for.’ And it was the best, most true thing ever,” she said.

His loss has been hard on the whole family, Sharon said.

“He was my best friend,” Georgia said. “We did everything together—golf, fishing, home projects. We miss him.”

Letter: New project launched to “Light Up the Library”

This summer, the Kaneville Public Library has embarked on a project to improve the lighting in the the library’s main reading room and stacks. While the library had upgraded the general lighting in the building several years ago,  it has become obvious that there were still some poorly lit areas that needed attention.

To solve this problem, the library is planning to install a series of at least 18 bookcase lights around the building, and is seeking community support for the project. A sponsor can help by buying a light for a tax deductible donation of $15. So far, eight have been pledged, so the project is well under way.

For more information or to make a donation in support of this project, contact Ray Christiansen at the library or telephone (630) 557-2441.

Ray Christiansen,
Library director, Kaneville Public Library

Letter: Looking for a tax deduction?

While many friends and community members make frequent donations of books, videos and other materials to the Kaneville Public Library for adding to our collections, exchanges with other libraries, or for its annual book sales, many people are unaware of other tax deductible donations that can be made to the library.

Cash donations, paid newspaper and magazine subscriptions, or paying for items from the library’s “wish book” of equipment and furniture needs are obvious examples, but other in-kind contributions can be made as well.

Books, audio and video recordings, computer software and other library-related items are, of course, always welcome, and the library accepts such donations year round, not just in the weeks leading up to a book sale.

The library will accept gently used office equipment such as file cabinets, calculators, typewriters or adding machines.

Art works for inclusion in the library’s collection of paintings and prints are always considered.

Used electronics, such as televisions, video game consoles (with games and controllers), video players, cassette and CD players, computer equipment and printers are acceptable as donations, so long as they are in working condition, are particularly welcome. Non-working electronics can be dropped off at the library for re-cycling, but we ask people to call before dropping things off as storage space is sometimes at a premium.

The library does not provide appraisals for donations, but will provide donors with letters of acknowledgement to help them in calculating their donation’s worth at tax time.

For additional information, questions about specific donations or directions to the library, contact Ray Christiansen, the Library Director, at (630) 557-2441.

Ray Christiansen
Library Director
Kaneville Public Library

How would you define progress?

by Susan O’Neill

Ask someone what progress means to them, and most will include the concept of “moving forward” and/or making things better in some way.

Progress as improvement
For many local residents, the concept of growth and development comes to mind when they think of progress. Some, such as Maple Park resident Julie Bauman, pre-school teacher at the Kaneville Child Community Center, see progress as furthering economic development for the surrounding areas, especially in these tough financial times.

Elburn resident Cathy Shaver said progress means making her life easier. Having a Jewel-Osco in town does that for her. She counts improvements in technology, such as cars with navigation tools, as examples of progress that help to improve people’s quality of life.

Mechanical improvements that make life easier, as well as medical discoveries that make everyone healthier, come to mind for Elburn resident Margaret Ritchie.

Sugar Grove veterinarian Craig Zabel said his definition of progress is similar to one he heard recently for success: getting closer to something one thinks is important or to a type of lifestyle one thinks is desirable.

Being a business owner in town, Zabel said he enjoys seeing growth as a sign of progress. On the other hand, he likes the small-town atmosphere that exists in Sugar Grove. Still, when he sees a development going up, he can’t help but wonder if the new residents have pets.

More services for the community mean progress for people such as Sugar Grove resident Rebecca Fritz. Additional offerings through the Park District, services for the elderly, computer services and other resources offered by the library would be progress for her.

Kaneville Library Director Ray Christiansen said he considers improving what is already in the community or an organization as progress. He said progress at the Kaneville Public Library is making sure that the services are up-to-date, with the newest books, better automation, more computers and on-line services.

Progress as a negative
Some people, such as Maple Park resident Heidi Espino, have a negative reaction when they think of progress.

“Progress means more traffic, more stores, more people,” she said. “I like things plain and simple; that’s why we moved out here.”

Espino said she and her family keep trying to stay ahead of progress. They moved to Maple Park from Geneva 15 years ago.

“Then again, I love the progress in Elburn,” she said. “I love the new library, the McDonald’s and the Jewel.”

When Kaneville resident and Hill’s Country Store owner Pat Hill thinks of progress, she thinks of highways, tons of houses, shopping centers and supermarkets, more clutter, more cars and more trouble.

Hill said she moved to Kaneville to get away from what she saw as the negative effects of progress in West Chicago. She said she does not even like driving on Randall Road because everyone is rushing to get somewhere. She said she can’t wait to get back to the slower pace in Kaneville.

“Everybody has to have a Wal-Mart in their back yard,” she said. “Everybody’s on top of each other and you can’t breathe. I found a happy place and I’m content.”

Progress as emotional growth
Several people said they think of progress in emotional, spiritual or moral terms.

Robert Allen Beauty Salon owner Allen Robert said he sees progress as a common goal that a community, family or other group of people work toward together. For example, he said a family might have goals around religious or personal moral issues.

Steel worker David Baie, who is working on the new Kaneland middle school building on Harter Road, said he sees moving in the direction of equality for women and minorities a sign of progress.

To Elburn librarian Liz Graves, progress would mean that millions of people would not be starving in Sudan and everyone would have a better quality of life, not just those with money. For her, progress is not about having better technology.

“Progress would be if we weren’t so selfish with everything we have and want,” she said.