A large part of Barbara L. Rakow's life revolved around East Dundee.
Rakow, 81, who died Saturday morning after a battle with lung cancer, is being remembered as the matriarch of a family with lengthy public service records in town.
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While Barbara was keeping records in town as village clerk from 1964 to 1973, her husband, Gene, served the East Dundee and Countryside Fire Protection District as chief for 32 years. He retired in 1986 and also had a stint as village clerk. Their son Mark took over as fire chief when his father retired; Mark retired earlier this year. Their daughter, Jill Yucuis, was village clerk and a two-term village president from 1993 through 2001.
"My parents were just always involved with the village and we just grew up with it," Yucuis said. "Just naturally, several of us went in that same direction."
Barbara Rakow lived in the area all of her life and made sure she kept busy.
Not only was she a wife and a mother to five children, but she also helped run a family business. She was responsible for bookkeeping and managing the River Street office at what used to be Rakow's Floor Coverings in East Dundee, Yucuis said.
God was important to Rakow as well.
She was a fixture at Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church, which she attended her whole life and where she was married. All of the Rakow children also attended the nearby school, as did eight of her 13 grandchildren. Two of her great grandchildren now are enrolled there, too.
In church, the Rev. Phillip Baerwolf always knew where to find Rakow during the 10:45 a.m. Sunday service -- silently holding court in the same pew near the back of the church.
"Barbara was a grand, grand lady; she was so faithful in worship," Baerwolf said.
She was the head of one of the church's oldest families, he added.
"So that gave her a wonderful place in our congregation. So many people loved her and respected her, and I know that she'll be missed by many, many people."
She was the type of woman who was fiercely loyal to her friends. If friends ever found themselves alone around the holidays, she invited them to spend the holidays with her and her family.
"Christmas at our house used to be pretty much an open house," Yucuis said. "She was just that way ... she just raised us with a lot of love."
The quiet, soft-spoken woman also was a fighter.
She'd beaten breast cancer nearly nine years ago, and in 2006 had surgery on one of her lungs to remove cancer there. But the lung cancer returned in February, and several strokes followed, Yucuis said. While Rakow was sick, the four kids who still live in Dundee Township visited every day and monitored her health.
She is survived by her children, 13 grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren. Gene, her husband of 47 years, preceded her in death in 1997. He, too, died of lung cancer.
Services will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church.