South Elgin board pays tribute to Jim Hansen
Silence spoke volumes as the South Elgin village board met Monday, three days after longtime Village President Jim Hansen died after a nearly five-month battle with lung cancer.
Village Clerk Margo Gray's voice cracked as she called for the president during roll call, and then acting President and Trustee John Sweet asked that a moment of silence be observed after the recital of the Pledge of Allegiance.
Trustee Lisa Guess offered hugs to several people before the meeting, and Hansen's name and character were invoked during discussion of various topics ranging from parking lot improvements to tax levies and abatements.
"We all considered him a friend," Police Chief Christopher Merritt, who's worked 23 years for the village, said Saturday. "He's a pretty important guy for all our lives. He's going to be missed. We're all devastated by the loss."
Merritt and other officers will wear a black band over their badges this week in Hansen's honor.
Hansen, 53, was serving his fourth term as village president. He was elected trustee in 1991 and became president in 2001.
Village Trustee Mark Kolodziej said Hansen met with trustees after receiving his diagnosis in June.
"He was very open about it and said he was going to put up the fight of his life," Kolodziej said Saturday. "We appreciated the fact that he was honest with us. That was the kind of guy he was."
Kolodziej said Hansen never missed a village board meeting, so when he missed the last two the board knew his condition was growing serious.
Election of a candidate to complete the remainder of Hansen's term -- which runs through 2017 -- will occur in the April 2015 consolidated election. It is expected the board will act much sooner than that to nominate a candidate in closed session and seek the board's approval in open session to vote for an interim president.
Of course, replacing Hansen is impossible.
Kolodziej remembered Hansen as a good leader who led by example.
"He led quietly, and he led with respect," he said. "He really put people before politics."
Hansen is survived by his wife, Teri, to whom he was married for 32 years; three children; four grandchildren; his mother, brother and many nieces and nephews.
Visitation will be from 3 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at Laird Funeral Home, 310 S. State St., Elgin. Funeral services will begin at 11 a.m. Thursday at the funeral home, followed by a burial at Bluff City Cemetery in Elgin.