Two Naperville Notables Retire

Two of Naperville’s most influential leaders are retiring, leaving their institutions after laying the foundation for a bright future.

The Naperville community came out the annual holiday open house at North Central College to say their goodbyes to President Harold R. Wilde and his wife, Benna.

“He’s been a mentor and a leader, and most of all he’s been my friend,” remarked Scott Wehrli, a member of the Board of Trustees at North Central College.

The ceremony opened with a choir performance by the Women’s Chorale of one of President Wilde’s favorite songs.

Wilde and his wife Benna took to the stage to accept a key to the city of Naperville presented to them by City Manager, Doug Krieger.

“To welcome them at any time they want to come into the city, and that’s what a key means. It means, we love you, you’re part of us you’re always welcome,” said Rick Spencer, the college’s Vice President of Institutional Advancement.

Wilde is the ninth president of the 151-year-old liberal arts college. Since 1992, he and his wife Benna have been familiar faces on campus, making a strong impression on the next generation.

“I think that she is such a great role model for our women students on campus so we’re going to miss her a lot, too,” said Laurie Hamen, Vice President for Enrollment Management at North Central.

Under his 22-year tenure, Wilde has doubled the college’s full-time student population, completed 15 building projects, and increased endowment, tenfold.

He will also be remembered for developing a positive relationship between the City of Naperville and the college.

“He pulls people together and we form a common goal, and it’s always been for the betterment of Naperville,” said Ray McGury, the Naperville Park District’s Executive Director.

The ceremony ended with a salute to President Wilde, as the choir adorned a very familiar ball cap.

President Wilde isn’t the only person stepping down from a leadership position. The Naperville Heritage Society, and Naper Settlement will say goodbye to their President and CEO, Peggy Frank.

Inside the Pre-Emption House at Naper settlement, Peggy Frank said her final farewell to friends and co-workers after 33-years of service.

Frank received attention on the national and state levels by accepting a Proclamation of Recognition.

“She’s put her heart and soul into Naper Settlement and her legacy will stand the test of time,” commented Illinois State Representative, Mike Connely.

Earlier in the week, Frank was recognized at the city council meeting and was presented with a plaque honoring the many ways she has transformed the now 12-acre settlement.

Judy Brodhead, Councilwoman for the City of Naperville, came to the event at the Settlement. “It went from being a volunteer organization’s project to a nationally ranked living history museum.”

In 1979, Frank became the first full-time employee of Naper Settlement. During her time there, the Settlement restored the Martin-Mitchell Mansion, and recently finished $2.3 million Roadways and Stormwater Management Project.

“She knows every brick of every building, and no one will ever be able to do that again,” said Chris Birck, a past Chairman of the Board of the Naperville Heritage Society.

“She’s made the museum, the Settlement, what it is today. We are going to be able to take over because she has given us all direction to follow,” said Mayor George Pradel.

Frank will assume the position of President Emerita.

North Central College’s new President, Dr. Troy Hammond will take over January first. The Naperville Heritage Society and Naper Settlement are still doing a nationwide search for Frank’s successor.

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