The first person to eulogize Libertyville resident William Madole on Friday will have a hard time limiting his comments.
"They're giving me three minutes and I'm trying to figure out what to say," said Bill Vanni, a friend of the former longtime village trustee and all-around homegrown booster for more than 30 years. "There's so much there. He was such a strong leader in Libertyville."
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Madole, 86, died Monday at the Wealshire in Lincolnshire. Visitation is 2 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Burnett-Dane Funeral Home Ltd., 120 W. Park Avenue (Route 176), Libertyville, and one hour before an 11 a.m. service Saturday at the United Methodist Church, 429 Brainerd Ave.
As a village trustee from 1978 to 1987 and from 1989 to 1992, president of the Lakeside Cemetery for 15 years until 2006, a paid-on-call firefighter and eventual assistant fire chief and member of other organizations, Madole was well-known for unflagging support of his hometown.
"He embodies the greatest generation," said Ed Kelly, who has known Madole for decades and succeeded him as president of the Lakeside Cemetery Association. "It was always about giving back to Libertyville, the community, never asking for anything in return."
A U.S. Army Air Corps veteran who had just completed training as an aerial gunner when the Japanese surrender ended World War II, Madole was instrumental in the planning, fundraising and construction of the veterans memorial at Lakeside that was dedicated in 1999. It is where a final tribute will be given before he is laid to rest at the cemetery.
While that may be one of his more visible contributions, there were many others. A commendation from the village in October 2006 acknowledges Madole as someone who immersed himself in the community and had a lasting influence through selfless contributions that made Libertyville a better place.
Mayor Terry Weppler, who served with Madole on the village board in the early days, called for a moment of silence at Tuesday's village board meeting.
"I can't think of one person who did more for this community than Bill Madole," he said later. "Any time you asked Bill to do anything, he was always there to do it."
And it would be done correctly, said Vanni, a structural engineer who was one of six candidates, including Madole, who ran for three seats. Knowing he would be re-elected, Madole gave his friend a hand.
"Technically, I ran against him in 1983 but he helped me get elected," Vanni recalled.
Vanni described the former construction superintendent as vocal in his views and a steady old-school persona who didn't dodge tough issues.
"There were no shortcuts. He was about doing things right and doing things well. He believed in hard work," Vanni said. "You didn't get half of Bill Madole."
Former village trustee Andrea Moore, who later served on the Lake County Board and as a state representative, remembered Madole as a fiscal conservative and someone who kept an open mind while working to understand complex issues.
"There aren't many who will be able to measure to Bill Madole's giving to this area," she said.
Madole was proud of his participation in 2010 in the Honor Flight program to visit the World War II monument in Washington, D.C., a trip he took with his brother, James.
"It means a lot," he told the Daily Herald just before the trip. "There's so much to see at that monument, so much symbolism."
Survivors include his wife of 67 years, Myrle; four children; six grandchildren; six great grandchildren; his brother, James, and a sister, Cleo Melendy.
Memorials can be made to the Veteran's Monument Fund at Lakeside Cemetery, P.O. Box 500, Libertyville, 60048.