Hometown: Raised on a farm south of Owaneco, a small town between Taylorville and Pana.
Family: Married to Jackie; daughter Suzanne; step-son David; and four grandchildren.
Occupation: Retired after 43 years at Caterpillar Inc.
Education: Taylorville High School class of 1958.
My “I’d rather be …” bumper sticker would read: “I’d rather be flying a kite!”
Hobbies/interests: Kite flying, keeping up on current local and world news, keeping my yard and my car looking as neat as possible.
My first job: Mowing yards for neighbors, walking beans and bucking bales of hay.
Personal approaches to challenges: List all of the pluses and minuses of the challenge, try to avoid any pitfalls, always do the hardest job first and the easiest last.
Community involvement: I’ve served on numerous committees and boards; anything to make the city of Decatur a better place to live and work.
Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe made special mention of your work with the public safety tax when presenting you with the Citizen of the Year award. What is it about that issue that had you willing to stand in the rain to promote its passage? My passion was they removed the law enforcement officer from the classroom. I feel very strongly that education about law enforcement and first responders is very important. In today’s environment, where it appears to me law enforcement has been under attack in the USA, education is the only way we can change that perspective.
Your latest cause is beautifying Decatur. Why is this issue so important? As my mother always said, “Put your best foot forward.” The corridors coming into Decatur reflect us as a community. I am only working on the 22nd Street corridor from Interstate 72 to Eldorado Street. Hopefully, we can make an impact and make it more attractive to visitors coming into our city.
You are retired. Shouldn't you be spending your days traveling and relaxing? I’m doing what I want to when I want do it. I’ve learned to say no.
The list of things you are involved with is long. How do you decide groups/causes to become actively involved with? Most everything I have been involved with, groups or causes, have improved quality of life issues.
Is this sense of involvement something you grew up believing or did it just happen one day and snowball from there? I was blessed to have good parents who instilled in me that you give back where you live and work. I mowed the church yard at a young age and was paid $3. One dollar went back to the church, one dollar to help less fortunate people and I could keep one dollar.
Why should a people, especially younger folks, get involved in the community? Young people should get involved because it is where they are going to raise their family. I found that it is easier to change something from within than trying to tear it down.
What is the first step for doing so? Volunteering. Get involved with something you care about.
How did you end up in Decatur? I came to Decatur in 1959. I got a jog sweeping the floor at Caterpillar. In 1963, I moved to Decatur.
You said in your Citizen of the Year acceptance speech how much you love your adopted hometown of Decatur. What is it about the community that you love so much? I think it is the most giving community for its size in the U.S. I’m proud to be a part of it.
What do you say to those people that have nothing but bad things to say about the community? Come with me for a day and I will be able to show you more good things than bad about our community. And if you’re not involved in helping change what you think is bad, then you’re part of the problem.