Naperville’s Bright Light: A. George Pradel

It was a fitting tribute to one of Naperville’s finest as Mayor Emeritus A. George Pradel was laid to rest.

Family and friends gathered for a private ceremony at Our Saviour’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, where Pradel’s children eulogized him with his signature enthusiasm…

“Welcome to Naperville! It’s going to be okay, guys, it’s going to be okay,” said George Pradel, in the style of his father A. George Pradel’s classic welcome.

And they showed appreciation for the support of the community.

“Thank you to those of you who have been there for us through all the years, but thank you to all of you for making his dreams come true,” said A. George Pradel’s daughter Carol Pradel.

It was then time to lay Naperville’s greatest cheerleader to rest, but not before honoring one of his final requests: one last trip past some of his favorite places in town.

A police escort led the hearse and a nearly 50 car procession first to the police station and Safety Town, which now bears Pradel’s and his late wife Patricia’s names. Officers in full uniform, plainclothesmen, and civilian employees stood at attention to honor the 29-year veteran officer.

Then it was on to Downtown Naperville and the “Officer Friendly” statue. Children from Washington Jr. High and other residents gathered waving American flags – a sight Pradel surely would have loved.

The journey concluded at Naperville Cemetery where Pradel was laid to rest with his wife, who died three years ago.

The private burial included full military honors for the former marine. Friends and family were able to say goodbye to a man beloved by an entire community.

“One of the things that people were coming up and saying was, ‘Well I’m just a citizen.’ That did not exist in Naperville,” said George Pradel. “If you were just a citizen, you hadn’t met my dad yet. You had a friend there that you hadn’t met yet.”

Whether he is remembered as a police lieutenant, Officer Friendly, mayor, or simply a friend, it’s undeniable A. George Pradel’s legacy will forever be a bright light in our community.

Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.

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