Lester: Reuniting an heir with Schaumburg woman's $160,000 estate

“Want to track down a family from Schaumburg and help return $160,000?”

That was the note I received last week from a source in the Illinois treasurer's office, who said officials have been on the hunt for the family of Lela B. Ruble, a deceased Schaumburg resident who left unclaimed assets that now amount to nearly $160,000.

After a few days, I reached her daughter, Sylvia Coulombe, who's retired in Maine.

Coulombe said she was aware her mother - who died in 1998 at age 90 - had left some funds that were in the hands of the state but had vastly underestimated how much. “I figured it was probably $25 I was going to have to struggle for,” she said, laughing. “This is quite a surprise.”

Ruble, who was raised in Missouri, married in Chicago and later moved to Hinsdale and then Schaumburg, never forgot the experience of struggling to make ends meet during the Great Depression.

“My mother was very frugal,” Coulombe said. “I'm very careful with my money, but not like my mother.”

The treasurer's office's I-Cash program distributes unclaimed cash, stocks and other properties to Illinois residents after recovering it from banks, insurers and other institutions. It has more than $2 billion in cash available for claim by rightful owners. Curious about what the state might have of yours? Check out

<h3 class="leadin">Toby Keith's to become Joe's Bar

  Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill in Rosemont will become a Joe's Bar. Bob Chwedyk/

Sources in Rosemont tipped that an announcement is expected early this week that the former Toby Keith restaurant will be a Joe's Bar location opening in the coming weeks. Four acts have been booked for February and March, including Frankie Ballard, Chris Janson, Old Dominion and Jamey Johnson.

Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill shut its doors in October.

<h3 class="leadin">'Standard' confidentiality?

You might have heard a bit of buzz this week surrounding the revelation that the College of DuPage paid a former journalist $2,500 to moderate two presidential search forums - but agreed to keep details of the agreement confidential unless a Freedom of Information Act request was made.

Former WFLD Fox-32 reporter Ann Kavanagh tells me the confidentiality agreement was her doing - and that it's part of a standard contract for clients she works with as part of her media consulting business.

<h3 class="leadin">(More) internal griping

Meanwhile ... I was forwarded an internal email written by Acting Interim COD President Joseph Collins, who had some harsh words for trustee Deanne Mazzochi about recent meetings to discuss board agendas. “I must say I find your behavior ... to be quite unprofessional,” Collins writes, referencing a recent charge by Mazzochi that he violated administrative policy by refusing to publish a meeting agenda that included all the items wanted by the “Clean Slate” group of trustees, which includes Mazzochi. “That is a serious charge, given our two positions. I will remind you that you do not individually have the ability to discipline me. I work for the entire board, not you,” Collins wrote. Mazzochi declined to comment.

<h3 class="leadin">Expanding service opportunities

U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth tells me she's prepping legislation that would expand service programs put in place by former President Bill Clinton and U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy. The aim, says Duckworth, an Iraq War veteran from Hoffman Estates, would be to “change the cultural expectations that American heroes are the ones who served in uniform.” The measure would make efforts to make all Americans of voting age aware of volunteer opportunities such as the Peace Corps and Teach for America. It's expected to be filed later this year.

Duckworth's U.S. Senate Democratic primary challenger, Andrea Zopp of Chicago, has also highlighted her commitment to community service, pointing out she left the corporate world to head up the Chicago Urban League, a nonprofit focused on combating racial segregation and promoting equal opportunity and education reform.

<h3 class="leadin">Did you know

Former Gov. Pat Quinn's budget director Jerry Stermer was a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador in the late 1960s. Associated Press/2010

Former Gov. Pat Quinn's budget director Jerry Stermer was a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador in the late 1960s. Stermer, the longtime head of Voices for Illinois Children, now teaches public policy at Northwestern University.

<h3 class="leadin">Seeking motivation

While I'm an avid runner, I'll admit this cold and icy stretch of the year doesn't leave me particularly motivated. Enter the Fox Valley Winter Challenge Trail Series, a string of competitive races through suburban nature trails. The first of the three races takes place at 10 a.m. Saturday at Hickory Knolls Nature Area in St. Charles, followed by an 8K Feb. 20 in Aurora and a 10K March 19 in Geneva. I'll be attempting all three in the hopes they'll leave me better prepared for my April half-marathons.

<h3 class="leadin">Committeeman swap

Mark Walker will replace Rob Nesvacil as Wheeling Township Democratic committeeman. Daily Herald File Photo

I learned Rob Nesvacil of Arlington Heights has stepped down as Wheeling Township Democratic committeeman and is being replaced by former state Rep. Mark Walker.

Nesvacil says the move is due to increasing responsibilities with his day job at Abbott Diagnostics.

<h3 class="leadin">We're saddened

I'm one of many in our newsroom profoundly saddened by the loss Friday of colleague Gerry Alger. One of my very first newsroom den mothers, she took me under her wing when I was a freelancer eager to write anything I could for the Daily Herald and advocated for me to get a spot as a part-time editorial assistant in the features department. Our thoughts are with her husband Mel and daughter Melanie.

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