UPDATE, April 17, 2018 / Jim Vahle and the selection committee have met and announced the names of the 2018 American Legion Post 43 Citizens of the Year who will be recognized on Sat., April 21, during the final Naperville American Legion Dinner Social of the year.

“Note that we are not naming a Citizen of the Year for Service to Community and we are naming two for Service to Veterans,” said Vahle for the American Legion.

Recipients for Citizen of the Year in the category of Service to Veterans are Mike Barbour and Phil Maughan. Citizen of the Year, Service to Youth, is Larry Lucas.

Mike Barbour: Service to Veterans: Mike Barbour epitomizes concern for veterans and service to them. From the time he marched in his first Memorial Day parade in the early 1990s, through today, he has worked tirelessly on their behalf, and been willing to tackle any problem, confront any obstacle that stands in the way of their best interests. He has served in many capacities: Commander Judd Kendall Post 3873 (VFW), Buddy Poppy chairman, Voice of Democracy, Patriots Pen, service officer for the Naperville American Legion and VFW posts, Veterans Advocate for Naperville Township, and President of the DuPage County Veterans Assistance Commission. The list goes on and on, but the important fact is that Mike stands for veterans, serves veterans and they know it.

Phil Maughan: Service to Veterans: It would be impossible to find two more worthy individuals than Mike Barbour and Phil Maughan. Phil doesn’t refer to his activities as Service to Veterans. In his words, he is just “doing what he loves.” That has included being commander of the Naperville American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts, serving currently as quartermaster of VFW Post 3873, district and state commander of the VFW, board member of the National Veterans Art Museum, member of the 82nd Airborne Association, the 7/15 Battalion Field Association and the Pritzker Military Library. As a member of the National Legislative Committee of the VFW, he travels to Washington twice a year to promote veterans causes and stays in touch with local elected officials to the same end.

Larry Lucas: Service to Youth: According to a Legion spokesperson, when word spread that Lucas had been nominated as a candidate for his Service to Naperville’s Youth, endorsements from other coaches, volunteers, parents, players and Little League officials poured in. Larry is respected and loved for his devotion to promoting Little League Baseball and its mission; for the longevity of his volunteer service, over forty years; for the breadth of his contributions which have involved coaching, promoting Little League and administration; but most of all for his devotion to the kids, helping them to grow their baseball skills and placing life lessons and the welfare of each boy above all else. To quote just one parent’s letter: “Larry instilled in the kids the important virtue that nothing comes easily and you must instead practice and work hard for whatever you want to excel at and achieve.”

Dinner for adults is $14 per person, payable at the door. For youth, 6 to 12 years old, the price is $7. Kids under 6 are free.  

The deadline for reservations to attend the dinner is Wed, April 18. Guests are welcome and encouraged.  For reservations, contact Wayne Fischer at wayne.l.fischer@gmail.com or (630) 240-8868.

Original Post / Back in 1986, Naperville American Legion Post 43 began naming its annual Citizen of the Year. Four years ago the program was expanded to consider naming a Citizen of the Year in up to three categories. Ever since, local citizens have received honors for Service to the Community, Service to Youth and Service to Veterans.

In 2017, the American Legion Citizens of the Year Gloria Caruso and Joe Caruso (Service to Veterans), Trish Krenick (Service to Youth), Ray Kinney (Service to Community) received honors from Jim Vahle and Lee Lindberg.

For 2018, organizers again asked for community assistance to identify deserving candidates in each of the three categories. To be nominated individuals must be Naperville residents; and their service must have been performed in a volunteer capacity, rather than as part of compensated employment. The selection committee will make its announcement of the honorees this week.

Awards and Recognition Banquet is Sat., April 21, 2018

Meanwhile, save the date for the Awards and Recognition Banquet on Sat., April 21, when the 2018 Citizens of the Year will be honored. The event begins with a social hour at 6PM, followed by dinner at 7PM; with a program after dinner.  As in the past, this dinner, open to the public, will be held at the Judd Kendall VFW Post 3873.  

This year the dinner will be prepared by Nicky’s Catering, with a menu featuring pulled pork, chicken fingers, potatoes, cole slaw, baked beans, rolls and butter. Dessert also is included.  Dinner for adults is $14 per person, payable at the door. For youth, 6 to 12 years old, the price is $7. Kids under 6 are free.  

“Our goal is to break even on our dinners and socials,” said publicist Wayne Fischer. “But the key to that is to be sure we have confirmed reservations or cancellations in advance.”

Fischer went on to explain that the evening will honor the American Legion “Citizens of the Year” for Youth, Community and Veterans. 

“We will also be announcing our Post 43 Scholarships for this year,” added Fischer. “Finally, as we always do, we will recognize all of our Past Post Commanders.”

Fischer noted that all Post Post Commanders and a guest are the guests of the American Legion for this special dinner, including spouses of deceased Past Post Commanders. The annual banquet is the last dinner and social of the American Legion year.

Confirmed reservations are due no later than Wed., April 18. Guests are welcome and encouraged.  Either respond to wayne.l.fischer@gmail.com or call him at (630) 240-8868.

The Judd Kendall VFW Post 3873 is located at 908 W. Jackson Avenue.

Naperville Municipal Band Spring Concert is April 22

Fischer also reminds the public that the Naperville Municipal Band Spring Concert begins at 3PM Sun., April 22, at Wentz Concert Hall.

“During this concert there will be a very special piece played called ‘Post 43-The American Legion March,’ written by our own Ron Keller,” said Fischer. “About 10 years ago, he also wrote a march in honor of ‘Judd Kendall and the VFW.'”

Naperville Municipal Band Conductor and Music Director Keller also is upbeat that the concert will feature guest conductor Patrick K. Sweeten, Lieutenant Commander, United States Navy Director, Fleet Band Activities.

The concert will include music to honor the Illinois Bi-Centennial, the 100th anniversary of World War I and the U.S. Navy.

Naperville Municipal Band Concerts are free of charge.

FYI: Nominate volunteers in one of three service categories for 2019

It’s never too early to begin thinking about unsung heroes to nominate for the 2019 Citizens of the Year.

According to Public Relations Officer Jim Vahle, anyone may nominate a candidate by sending a letter or email that includes a comprehensive description of the services the nominee performed, the time frame, duration, and significance of the service to others, and the category they are being nominated for, along with the name and contact information for the nominee and the person offering the nomination.

Nominate local citizens for service to community, youth or veterans.

Letters from others endorsing the nominee are encouraged.

“Naperville is blessed with people of all ages who serve their fellow citizens,” noted Vahle. “Typically, the judges have a very difficult task.”

Vahle suggests all nominations be accompanied with comprehensive information—attachments and endorsements may be included—to help judges in selecting the winners. 

Mail nominations to American Legion Post 43, 2019 Citizen of the Year, Post Office Box 4, Naperville, 60566 or emailed to vahlej@comcast.net to arrive by March 26, 2019.

Questions? Want information on recent Citizens of the Years and their contributions?  Vahle has the answers. Contact him at (630) 864-7183 or via email at vahlej@comcast.net.

For more information about programs, service projects, scholarships, Boy Scouts, dinner socials, community outreach and other initiatives hosted by members of the Naperville American Legion, visit www.naperlegion.org.

Related PN Post / American Legion Post 43 2017 Citizens of the Year

A few other Citizens of the Year saved in PN’s archive