It’s been many years that I’ve been filling this space with musical anecdotes and rhetoric; in fact, this may be the first time I have gone off course. But, as I sat down to prepare something for you, I found myself with the perspective that there are some things that are “bigger than the game.” In this case, the passing of former Naperville mayor George Pradel is something I must address.
When I moved to Naperville in 2003, I found myself in a city that viewed children as the keys to the future. With an emphasis on education and strong community values, it was immediately obvious that this city was cared for by a smart administration with a great leader. As months started to pass, I got familiar with Mr. Pradel and started seeing the genuine care and love that he had for Naperville and its residents, as well as his love for singing!
Along with a lovely voice that he shared year after year with Singing for Seniors, it was his beaming smile that was infectious. He was a man that knew how to make people feel good.
I presented this great man as “former Naperville mayor,” but there is so much more to his legacy. He was a Naperville Central graduate that spent three years serving his country as a U.S. Marine before serving his community as a Naperville Police officer. He would serve as an officer for 28 years, before serving as our mayor for five consecutive terms.
Anyone that has lived in Naperville, or even passed through our great city, owes George Pradel a debt of gratitude. He served this community his entire life, and did it with unparalleled grace and dignity. So, each and every time I pass the “Officer Friendly” statue of George Pradel that stands on Washington Street, I bow my head, think of that beaming smile, and give thanks.