The village of Lindenhurst was a just seven years old when Art Neubauer was appointed treasurer. With a head for finances and a volunteer spirit, he stepped into the role in 1963 and never looked back.
He's worked alongside six mayors and dozens of trustees, and watched the village grow from a tiny resort town to thriving suburb during his nearly 50 years of care-taking the town's cash.
Contact information ( * required )
Neubauer turned 80 this month, and the office staff threw him a surprise birthday party.
Known as a soft-spoken, humble guy with a quick wit, the father of four, grandfather of 12 and great grandfather of three, said he was touched by the sentiment.
"I figured I might just get a card with everyone's name on it. That's all I was expecting," he said. "This was a big thing."
Raised on Chicago's Northwest side, Neubauer moved to Lindenhurst with his wife Donna Lee in the early 1960s.
As a loan administrator for the 1st National Bank in Chicago, he was looking for a way to use his financial finesse to help others.
"I heard the village was looking for a treasurer and thought, I could do that," he said.
And he did, for decades. Those who worked alongside the U.S Navy veteran say his savvy investments have reaped dividends over the years by keeping the town in the black.
"He has an uncanny way of getting the highest rate of return on village investments," said former village administrator Jim Stevens. "The guy is intelligent, has high ethical standards and high integrity. And he's funny, too."
Stevens said Neubauer's sense of humor belies his quiet personality.
"We'd be sitting in board meetings and Art would whisper a wise crack in my ear and I had to try hard to not laugh out loud," Stevens said. "He has a dry sense of humor that you don't see right off the bat."
The village treasurer receives a small stipend, but is basically a volunteer position. That's fine for Neubauer. Volunteering is a way of life for him.
He serves as a trustee on the Lindenhurst Sanitary District, is president of the Lake Villa School District 41 Education Foundation and is on the board of directors for Waukegan-based Vista Health System.
And thanks to former mayor Jim Betustak, there's a street named after Neubauer in a subdivision on the east side of town.
"Art's contribution to this town is immeasurable," Betustak said. "He's a man of integrity with a capital I. He's humble, unassuming and a Cub's fan. The people of Lindenhurst owe him a big birthday wish."
Neubauer has no plans to retire as treasurer and said he still enjoys the work.
"I've been here for all these years but still don't have my own office. My office is wherever I'm standing," he smiled. "I feel like I'm doing my share. I feel like I'm helping."