Mount Prospect lost one of its best-known, most-decorated residents Friday when Harold Weary, 105, died at the Lutheran Home in Arlington Heights.
Many remember Harold as the gentleman who often sat at a small table in the lobby of the Mount Prospect Public Library or in the library's booth at the farmers market, selling raffle tickets and other items to raise funds for the library foundation. He was known as its best salesman because his smile and ready conversation made him impossible to ignore.
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But Weary also held more recognitions and awards in Mount Prospect than just about anyone.
In 1988, the Mount Prospect Public Library board named the library's genealogy collection in his honor because, by that time, he'd given it more than 20 years of service. An avid genealogist, Weary helped found the Northwest Suburban Council of Genealogists.
Seven years later the village honored him with the "Living Legend Shining Star" award for his service to the library, the Mount Prospect Historical Society and Trinity United Methodist Church.
In 2007 he was again honored -- this time by the Mount Prospect Sunrise Rotary Club -- with the John McNamara Service Above Self Award for being a non-Rotarian who had offered time and talents to make a positive impact within the community.
Finally, in 2011, Weary was honored once more by the library with the Founders' Award for his exceptional work that included logging over 10,000 volunteer hours.
"Harold made a difference in the life of Mount Prospect," said village Trustee Paul Hoefert, who also serves on the historical society board. "We were truly blessed to have him in our community for so long. He was an example to all of us and will be deeply missed."
Weary was a founding member of the Mount Prospect Public Library Foundation, stepping down only last October on the occasion of his 105th birthday.
"Throughout his years with the library, Harold was very patient as he taught the mysteries of finance to board members and monitored the levies and budgets," said Marilyn Genther, executive director of the library. "He tirelessly worked on six referenda. When the library formed a foundation in 1997, he became one of the first board members and has volunteered hours of his time on its fundraising efforts."
Born in Kansas in 1908, Weary came to Chicago to work for Drover's Journal Publishing Co. in the stockyards. That is where he met his wife, Irene. They had three children: Marlys, Sharon and Ronald.
In 1942, he joined United Airlines and spent 32 years there, first at Midway Airport and then in Elk Grove Township when the airline moved its corporate offices. That prompted Weary to move his family to Mount Prospect in 1961.
Genther said she's heard many tributes to Weary since Friday as word of his death spread through the community.
"He marked all of our lives through his presence, and we are better people for having known him," she said. "The library boards and staff are forever indebted to his support, friendship and assistance over the past 46 years."
Visitation will take place from 3 to 9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21, at Friedrichs Funeral Home, 320 W. Central Road, Mount Prospect. Services are set for 11 a.m. Saturday at Trinity United Methodist Church, 605 W. Golf Road in Mount Prospect.