Mayor Emeritus A. George Pradel touched the lives of so many people during his five decades of public service. After all his years as a police sergeant, Officer Friendly, and mayor, everyone seems to have a favorite memory of Mayor Pradel.
“I think one of my favorite stories was he was reading to my daughters’ class, Sara, at Elmwood Elementary School and Sara was like ‘do you know my dad?’” said Ray Kinney, a friend of Pradel’s.
“And he goes, ‘Who’s your dad?’ ‘Ray Kinney’ and he said hang on, pulls out his phone and calls me right then and there. She thought that was great. That’s just the type of guy he was. He wanted everyone to feel like he was connected to them in some way. And he truly was. This was not an act, this was not a front – this was George at his core.”
And he always made sure to support local non-profits, especially when they involved helping children.
“I’ll always remember him always saying, ‘You have persevered.’” Said Tiffany Stephens, founder of Kids Teen Rider. “If you Google us, if you Google the ribbon cutting, he’ll say, ‘You made it through the storm and we’re going to work some things out and make sure Kids Teen Rider Happens.’ And every time I come in here and open the door, I think about that and what he said to keep me going.”
Pradel’s compassion didn’t stop with his friends. Pradel often showed off the virtues that made him so beloved in Naperville.
“I heard on one Thanksgiving when he was a police officer he arrested a couple for passing bad checks,” said Pat Bowler, who knew Pradel through Naperville Responds for Veterans. “He called his wife pat and said, “Hey listen, I’m going to be a little late for dinner, but do we have a couple extra plates we can bring down to the police station for these people. It’s Thanksgiving.’ That’s the kind of guy he was.”
“I was having dinner at Quincy’s Diner up here,” said Drew White, a Naperville resident. “He and I would cross paths occasionally so we said, ‘hi how are you doing’ and I happened to be sitting alone. And he offered me to join him and his guest and we continued our pleasantries, had a nice conversation. And at the end he offered to pay for my meal. I thought that was a very nice and charitable thing to do.”
A great man who connected with so many.
Public visitation for Pradel is open on September 8 and 9 from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. in the Municipal Center.
Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.
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