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Thursday, March 30, 2023

Naperville’s Pulse in Springfield – Giving thanks for George Pradel


Like many of us, in November I like to take stock of the many blessings for which I am grateful; chief among them are my wonderful family and friends. I’m also grateful to be a part of the wonderful Naperville community; and so am thankful for George Pradel.

I was fortunate to know George for more than 30 years, and I can honestly say I have never met a kinder man, nor one more dedicated to the well-being of everyone in his community. During our upcoming Fall Veto Session in Springfield, I will have the honor of presenting a resolution in the House to recognize and remember George Pradel, and I wanted to give you a preview…

Whereas Naperville icon A. George Pradel passed from this life on September 4, 2018, one day before his 81st birthday; and

Whereas George Pradel was born in Hyde Park, IL, but was a lifelong resident of Naperville after his family moved to town in 1939 when he was two; and

Whereas George Pradel graduated from Naperville Community High School and then served his country and community in the U.S. Marine Corps.; and

Whereas upon returning to Naperville, George Pradel began working for the Naperville Police Department in 1966, where he quickly earned the nickname “Officer Friendly” for his love of visiting local schools and teaching children about safety; and

Whereas to bring his safety message home to local children, George Pradel founded “Safety Town” in 1977, a miniature village dedicated to teaching about pedestrian, bike, and railroad safety,” and

Whereas young George Pradel met Patricia Burke on a set-up put together by his sister. George and Patricia fell in love and were married in 1966; and

Whereas George Pradel retired from the Naperville Police Department as Lieutenant when he was elected to his first term as Mayor of Naperville in 1995; and

Whereas George Pradel would go on to serve 20 years as Mayor of Naperville, becoming the City’s longest-serving mayor; and

Whereas during his tenure, Mayor George Pradel was a tireless champion for his hometown; and

Whereas, to meet his growing city’s needs, George Pradel helped create Naperville’s Senior Task Force and new city positions of Chairman of Chinese Outreach and Chairmen of Indian Outreach; and

Whereas safety was always a paramount concern, as Mayor, George Pradel swore in or promoted 371 officers to the Naperville Police Department; and

Whereas, George Pradel never ceased his work on behalf of local children, helping bring the DuPage Children’s Museum to the city and participating in anti-cyberbullying videos; and

Whereas Mayor George Pradel was devoted to all in the Naperville community and participated annually in many events for charities and health campaigns; and also recruited children to ride in his “Big Wheel Brigade” that participated in holiday parades;

Whereas upon leaving office in 2015, George Pradel was awarded the title “Mayor Emeritus” which allowed him to continue to represent his beloved city at local events; and

Whereas generations of Naperville families returned his love and devotion, and honored him in numerous ways, including renaming Safety Town, his proudest achievement, in his and his wife’s honor, erecting a sculpture of Officer Friendly greeting children, naming a park and a street in his honor and even selling a George Pradel bobblehead; and

Whereas for five decades, George Pradel personified Naperville, there wasn’t anything that George Pradel wouldn’t do for Naperville or for a friend, and he considered everyone who lived in town a friend; and

Whereas George Pradel will be greatly missed by his children Carol, Gary and George, his six grandchildren and four great grandchildren, and by all who knew him and the community that loved him; be it

Resolved by the House of Representatives of the 100th General Assembly that members of the House wish to express our deepest condolences to George Pradel’s family, and we wish to celebrate the life and countless contributions of this Naperville icon; and be it further

Resolved that a suitable copy of this resolution be presented to the Pradel family as an expression of our esteem and respect.

Grant Wehrli
Grant Wehrli
Grant Wehrli is a lifelong Naperville Resident and former Representative in the Illinois House of Representatives and Naperville City Councilman.