Naperville’s Trolley Meister and community advocate who 63-years ago married his childhood sweetheart, Jean Knoch, died on Sunday, May 17, 2015, at his home in Naperville. He was 87. Just last summer he did a perfect back flip off the low board at Centennial Beach.
Donald E. Wehrli was born on February 28, 1928, the seventh of 13 children. He grew up in the original Pre-Emption House on Chicago Avenue in downtown Naperville. He attended Saints Peter & Paul Grade School and Naperville High School (Class of 1946). He served as U.S. Army Records Specialist followed by a career in sales.
Don managed the Dickenson Jam & Jelly Shop in Disneyland in the 1950s where Walt Disney told him, “Don, there is great satisfaction in making other people happy.” He never forgot that.
He was elected to the Naperville City Council 1983-1987. He played in and later refereed the annual Turkey Bowl football game. He was fond of sayings and pleased to be published in Bits & Pieces: “Live a Life of Awareness.”
Don began Naperville Trolley & Tours in 1995. He delighted in telling the history of Naperville and welcoming people aboard to celebrate their happy occasions. The business grew to four trolleys and was recently sold to his daughter.
He planned his work and worked his plan. He handed out thousands of “Attitude” cards. He directed his energies toward gardening, exercise, speaking at public forums, working to support his family, volunteering for Naperville Evening Kiwanis and helping to build the Naperville Riverwalk.
“I think there are two kinds of people in the world, givers and takers. Givers are happy,” he said.
Don Wehrli, pictured with other Past Commanders in 2014 wearing the American Legion Poppy second from right, always displayed his patriotism and love for his country.
He was a Past Commander of American Legion Naperville Post 43, inducted into the Saints Peter & Paul School Hall of Honors in 2006 and received the Naperville Jaycees Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011.
His good attitude, loving family and friends, and the musical comfort of his favorite record, “London in Love,” helped him through his final struggle with prostate cancer.
With a twinkle his eye for his wife, Jean, Don Wehrli always could be counted among the crowd at Naperville Municipal Band Summer Concerts in Central Park.
In addition to his wife, Don is survived by seven children, Mary Lou (Herb), Win (Deborah), Fred (Anne), Jill, Francie, Annette and Grant (Sharon); 14 grandchildren Sarah, Megan (Travis), Lauren (Josh), Michelle (Aaron), Dana, Michael (Colleen), Austin, Elizabeth, Kayla, Colette, Jack, Jake, Joe, and Luke; and two great-grandchildren Emma and Ben.
Visitation & Services
Visitation is at Friedrich-Jones Funeral Home at 44 S. Mill Street from 2 to 9PM Wed., May 20.
Mass of Christian burial will be held at 11AM on Thurs., May 21, at Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church, 36 N. Ellsworth Street, Naperville, with internment immediately following.
Memorials may be made by casting your vote in all elections and to the “Abraham Lincoln Sculpture” in care of Century Walk, 34 W. Chicago Avenue, Naperville IL 60540 or to We Grow Dreams, started by Naperville parents, 1055 W. Washington Street, West Chicago IL 60185 (wegrowdreams.org).
Editor’s Note: Today we’re remembering our friend Don Wehrli, age 87, who died peacefully in his sleep this morning. His community spirit as well as his great love for family, Central Park, the Naperville Municipal Band and faithful service to our country will long be remembered. Knowing Don has been quite a ride. Ding! Ding! Thoughts and prayers are with the Wehrli family.
Editor’s Update May 21, 2015 / Community comments
Ginny Wehrli-Hemmeter / Thank you for sharing, Stephanie! (May 17, 2015)
Jane E. Abe / So, so sad to read. His personality, community dedication and love for people was infectious! (May 17, 2015)
Elizabeth Hodges Heaverner / So sorry to hear this. He was such a great person and dedicated to the community. He always showed true love for Naperville and its citizens. (May 17, 2015)
Karen Kouri Murphy / RIP Mr. Wehrli. (May 17, 2015)
Paula Howland Cree / Prayers to his family! (May 17, 2015)
Jackie Jansen Pajor / So sorry to hear about Uncle Don! He was such a kind man and special uncle!
Mary Jean Jansen / I was so sorry to hear about Don, I am sure he will be greatly missed by family and all the lives he touched in Naperville. (May 17, 2015)
Sue Staller Larson / Prayers to his family. He was my trolleymeister for my wedding 17 years ago. (May 17, 2015)
Janet Sinibaldi / So sad to hear of Don’s passing…he was a great man and loved his city, Naperville. The trolley was one of the best things he did for Naperville. Rest In Peace. (May 17, 2015)
Stacey Lyon Abe / Sad day! What a wonderful man! (May 17, 2015)
Brian Dickhut / We appreciate everything Don has done for our community and the legacy he leaves behind. Prayers for friends and family. (May 17, 2015)
Jenny Dawley / Thankful for Mr. Don and the legacies he leaves us, especially his beloved family. Hugs and prayers! (May 18, 2015)
Michael Hammond / My condolences to the family. (May 18, 2015)
Gini James MamaStruck / What a man. Rest in peace. (May 19, 2015)
Stephanie Penick / During the Mass of Christian Burial to celebrate the memorable life of Don Wehrli, Trolley Meister, all in attendance were heartened by remarks by his children, grandchildren and great grandchild, Emma, in the loving faithful spirit of Alleluja. Thank you, Reverend Thomas Milota, Pastor, Ss. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church. Amen and Amen. (May 21, 2015)