If you have jogged the Fox River Trail, watched a minor-league baseball game in Geneva, sped across the Fabyan Parkway bridge or been to the Kane County Judicial Center, you benefited from the vision of Phil Elfstrom.
"He really was a man who made a difference in Kane County," said Batavia Mayor Jeff Schielke, a longtime friend, after Elfstrom's death at age 89 in May.
Elfstrom's supporters thought he was a brilliant man, who knew what would be best for Kane County as the suburbs moved in. Detractors thought he was a dictator, amassing too much power and steamrolling over others' objections to his plans.
He was on the county board for 23 years, 12 years of those as chairman. He was also president of the Kane County Forest Preserve commission from 1982 to 1990. Elfstrom championed preserving the public's access to the Fox River, pushing to convert former railroad right of way to the trail.
Elfstrom was one of several Fox Valley residents whose deaths made headlines in 2017. Others include:
Carpentersville Trustee Pat Schultz died unexpectedly on Oct. 16 at age 61. The longtime village resident had been elected to her third term on the village board in the spring and served on various committees. Schultz is remembered for her dedication to residents and the community as a whole.
Albert Jourdan Jr.
Albert Jourdan Jr., a Republican powerhouse in McHenry County and Illinois politics for decades, died in February at age 82. Jourdan was a county auditor and GOP chairman during one of McHenry County's most robust periods, friends say. He also served as chairman of the Illinois Republican Party and was on the Regional Transportation Authority for several years.
Lifelong Dundee-area resident Jim Masi, known as "Mr. Dundee," died in July at age 86. In addition to being a charming and dedicated businessman, real estate agent and public servant, Masi's family said he is remembered as a loyal friend and an unforgettable presence in the community.
Brian Oldfield, an Olympic shot putter in the 1970s and 1980s who appeared on "The Tonight Show" and the cover of Sports Illustrated, died March 26 in his native Elgin. He was 71. He was credited with popularizing the rotational style of shot-putting and once held the U.S. record in the sport at 72 feet, 9 inches, and finished sixth at the 1972 Olympics. "He was a gentle giant," his friend Van Richards said.
Keith Farnham, the former state representative from Elgin serving an eight-year federal term for child pornography, died in prison June 18. He was 69. Farnham had been in prison for about two years and had been suffering from pulmonary fibrosis lung disease and bladder cancer.
Friends and family of former Algonquin resident Talia Freund carried on the 14-year-old's mission to fight cancer after she died this past April. Talia, who most recently lived in Mazon, was diagnosed with metastatic Ewing's sarcoma in 2016 and, in the midst of her own fight, did whatever she could to raise awareness for childhood cancer research.
Richard "Dick" Fitchie, 70, of Elgin died July 9 and left $30,000 to a scholarship fund for low-income students at his alma mater, St. Edward Central Catholic High School. Fitchie graduated in 1964. He started the scholarship fund in his father's name in 1990.
West Dundee resident Don Tentler died in February during a work accident at the Geneva Commons shopping center. The 47-year-old electrician suffocated when he was pinned by a lifting device while installing a sign on a bell tower. Tentler was involved with St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church, served as a Cubmaster for his son's Cub Scout troop and is remembered as a dedicated family man.
Jean Bowen, a tireless proponent for Elgin Area School District U-46, 75, of Elgin, died Sept. 16. Bowen spent a majority of her educational career in U-46 schools, starting in the mid-1970s as a math and social studies teacher at then-Abbott Junior High School. She became a guidance counselor, assistant principal, and head of the Visual and Performing Arts Academy at Larkin High School in Elgin. Bowen also served as the principal of South Elgin High School when it opened in 2005 and shepherded its first graduating class of 2008.
Cipriano "Cip" Siete, Elgin's first Hispanic police officer and supervisor, died April 21. Siete, 86, a native of Elgin, was hired in 1958. He retired as a sergeant in 1981 and worked as head of security for Sears at Spring Hill Mall until 1993. Then he became a Kane County courthouse security officer for 12 years. "He had a very strong personality," his widow Linda Siete said, "and he did always try to look out for other people."
Kathleen Ann Turnquist, a lifelong advocate for students with developmental disabilities, died in March. Turnquist, 59, joined Elgin Area School District U-46 in the fall of 1979 and taught at several elementary schools as a special education teacher and later a general education teacher, ending her 33-year career at Lowrie Elementary School. Turnquist became involved in activities to help developmentally disabled children and young adults because of her brother Ken's special needs.
Lisa LaForge, an Elgin advocate for mental health services for children and families, died in July. The executive director of the Family Service Association of the Greater Elgin Area spent a 36-year career there, starting as a therapist for adults. She was instrumental in implementing Screening, Assessment and Support Services, a state program for children and adolescents experiencing a mental health crisis, in the Elgin area. LaForge also was instrumental in creating Kane County's Mental Health Juvenile Justice program in 2002.
Former St. Charles Alderman Jim Martin served from 1971 to 2015, and never missed a meeting -- 1,031 of them. Even a bout with meningitis in 1999 that put him in a coma for a few days couldn't keep him from attending; he phoned in. Martin was known for voting "no" on requests for liquor licenses, out of concerns about drinking and driving. He was in St. Charles Rotary Club, a founding member of the St. Charles Breakfast Rotary Club, co-chaired the drive to create the city's 708 Mental Health Commission, and spearheaded the formation of both the Greater St. Charles Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Downtown St. Charles Partnership.
Rosalie Jones Link
Rosalie Jones Link spent 22 years as a Batavia school trustee, including eight years as president. During that time, the district's population doubled, and it built a replacement middle school and two replacement elementary schools, enlarged the high school, and added two elementary schools. Link died Sept. 19 at age 79. "There have been some times that have been disappointing," Link said at her last meeting in November 2001. "But 99.9 percent of the time, what we do here -- the long meetings and so on -- are extremely satisfying and rewarding.
Jamie Daniel, a Mississippi transplant, was known for her dedication to preserving the history of Geneva, a town she called home for 61 years. The former real estate agent who started her own firm in the 1970s died at age 95 in May. In 2002, Daniel received the Preservation Partnership Award from the Preservation Partners of the Fox Valley because of her effort to save a home slated to be torn down. It was the work of August and Oscar Wilson, Geneva architects who had studied with Frank Lloyd Wright. "Hey, I care about Geneva," Daniel said in a 2002 Daily Herald article. "We cannot destroy our heritage. And we must not."