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updated: 12/7/2010 11:38 AM

Swenson a friend to all in St. Charles

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If someone asked you to describe a typical, hardworking, blue-collar St. Charles resident, Warren Swenson would be an excellent choice.

I had the pleasure of knowing Warren as a fellow Tri-Cities Exchange Club member the past 20 years. I should have rubbed his head for good luck on occasion, as the guy had an uncanny knack of winning the 50-50 raffle nearly every week.

Warren spent the better part of the last year in a wheelchair, suffering from ailing health. He passed away last week at age 90 and family and friends said goodbye at his funeral on Monday.

If you lived in St. Charles, there's a good chance Warren worked on your furnace or air conditioner, as he was a common sight driving around town in his blue van and working endless hours to help his customers.

He always had kind words about my columns, and story tips related to local history or his St. Charles High School Class of 1938 and its numerous interesting characters. And he was definitely one of them.

Santa for a cause

Len Bielefeldt has created a Santa Claus portrait that will do more than impress those who stop in at Morrison Galleries, a new gallery in Geneva, but well known and respected in Chicago for years.

The Paul Ruby Foundation for Parkinson's research will benefit from the talents of the 49-year-old Bielefeldt and his holiday portrait. It will be up for bid in a fine art auction to benefit the foundation, which Bielefeldt has supported since its creation.

The portrait can be seen at the gallery, 223 W. State St. Bidding started during the Christmas Walk and continues to Dec. 17. All bids should be e-mailed to

Choir for a cause

Bring nonperishable food items to benefit the Northern Illinois Food Bank if you go to the 9 a.m. service Sunday at Baker Memorial Church in St. Charles. The annual Christmas music worship helps feed the hungry during the holidays.

Blood for a cause

It helps get the St. Charles VFW Post 5036 active with another community event, but it mostly helps the area blood banks.

Post 5036 will host its first blood drive for LifeSource blood centers from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Appointments are recommended at (877) 543-3768, but walk-ins are welcome.

Organizers are reminding donors to eat well and stay hydrated before giving blood. Donors are also asked to bring an ID.

The VFW Post is located at 119 N. Third St. in St. Charles.

Lots of holiday cheer

Now that was a busy holiday weekend. You had to park in another town to get near downtown Geneva on Friday night, as it appeared to be a record crowd for Christmas Walk.

And the number of runners (400-plus) competing in a snowstorm at

TriCity Family Services' Snowflake Shuffle on Saturday morning in the Mill Creek subdivision confirmed that runners are indeed crazy.

And even though it's surely not as busy as in years past, the number of people shopping at Charlestowne Mall in St. Charles and dropping dollars in the Salvation Army bucket was nice to see.