Lombardians cheer gazebo honoring late village president

  • Eileen Mueller, wife of former Lombard Village President William Mueller, greets Lisle Mayor Joe Broda Friday during a ribbon-cutting for the Mueller Memorial Gazebo.

      Eileen Mueller, wife of former Lombard Village President William Mueller, greets Lisle Mayor Joe Broda Friday during a ribbon-cutting for the Mueller Memorial Gazebo. Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

  • Eileen Mueller, wife of former Lombard Village President William Mueller, says thank you to the more than 100 people who attended a ribbon-cutting Friday for the new Mueller Memorial Gazebo. Mueller died in 2012; Friday would have been his 79th birthday.

      Eileen Mueller, wife of former Lombard Village President William Mueller, says thank you to the more than 100 people who attended a ribbon-cutting Friday for the new Mueller Memorial Gazebo. Mueller died in 2012; Friday would have been his 79th birthday. Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

  • A plaque honoring the late William "Bill" Mueller, former Lombard village president, was revealed during a ribbon-cutting for the Mueller Memorial Gazebo Friday.

      A plaque honoring the late William "Bill" Mueller, former Lombard village president, was revealed during a ribbon-cutting for the Mueller Memorial Gazebo Friday. Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

  • A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Mueller Memorial Gazebo at the Victorian Cottage in downtown Lombard went slightly off-kilter Friday when the ribbon was accidentally cut early. The ribbon cutting was repeated moments later, to everyone's approval.

      A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Mueller Memorial Gazebo at the Victorian Cottage in downtown Lombard went slightly off-kilter Friday when the ribbon was accidentally cut early. The ribbon cutting was repeated moments later, to everyone's approval. Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 10/31/2014 5:56 PM

William "Bill" Mueller loved celebrations.

One of his favorites was Oct. 31 -- not only because it was Halloween, but also because it was the day he was born.

 

It was fitting, then, that more than 100 people gathered Friday at the Victorian Cottage in downtown Lombard to celebrate the completion of the new Mueller Memorial Gazebo, built in honor of the late village president.

Mueller died from complications of West Nile virus in 2012. He was Lombard's longest-serving village president, holding the position from 1993 until his passing at age 76. He also served as a village trustee from 1975 to 1979.

A memorial rock near the gazebo made note of Mueller's time in office, along with the phrases "Every day is a gift. Take time to enjoy it" and "With Lombard pride!"

His wife, Eileen, thanked everyone involved with the construction of the gazebo, including the Lombard Historical Society, village staff, resident Marymae Meyer, who came up with the idea, and all the individuals and businesses that provided contributions to the project.

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"To think that everybody in this town meant so much to him, or that he meant so much to them, it's a moving tribute," she said.

Eileen said Amish workers from Pennsylvania constructed the white gazebo, which is surrounded by lilac bushes. She called it a beautiful, "permanent piece of history," and noted that it provides a clear view of one of her husband's favorite sights in town -- the steeple of First Church of Lombard.

"I truly believe that my dad is here with us today," said Mueller's daughter, Donna Fruehe. "He is looking down on this experience with awe and wonder. I know he is so touched by all of you and all the efforts and contributions that you've given to him and the town."

Village President Keith Giagnorio said Mueller set "the gold standard" for him and all future village presidents.

"It is my belief that the influence a man has can be measured by the outcome of his efforts. That being said, Bill's commitment, achievements and love for Lombard can be seen throughout the village and I do not think that there is a single one of us here today whose life he did not touch in some way," he said.

He agreed that Mueller would have been thrilled to see the gazebo.

"He always loved places and events that brought Lombardians together. I cannot think of a better way to honor him than with this special place where Lombardians can make memories for years to come," he said. "I hope today is the first of many cherished moments to take place here."

After the windy and cold ribbon-cutting ceremony, attendees gathered inside and enjoyed refreshments, including chocolate doughnuts -- which Mueller's eldest daughter, Debbie Rapata, said he made a tradition of bringing to village hall every Halloween.

Donations are still being accepted for the $25,000 project. Anyone interested in contributing can visit mullermemorial.org or send a check made payable to "Community Memorial Site for Bill Mueller" to West Suburban Bank, 711 S. Westmore Ave., Lombard.

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