Suburban Republican leader Serchuk dies at 81
Chuck Serchuk ~ 1935-2016
By Eileen O. Daday
Daily Herald correspondent
A longtime Elk Grove Township Highway Commissioner, who made a lasting impact on the Elk Grove Township Republican Organization, has died.
Chuck Serchuk was elected to four terms as highway commissioner. Consequently, he oversaw the maintenance of roads and bridges, as well snow removal in unincorporated areas of parts of Arlington Heights, Des Plaines, Elk Grove Village, Mount Prospect and Rolling Meadows for 16 years.
He died Saturday from complications related to his battle with diabetes. Serchuk was 81.
"Chuck was a fixture out here for years," says Arthur Niewiardowski, Elk Grove Township Republican committeeman. "He was just a real people person, always wanting to help people."
Niewiardowski recalls that Serchuk would drive around the township, checking on roads, bridges and township buildings, but he also eagerly volunteered to help residents in unincorporated areas gain access to services.
Nanci Vanderweel served as Elk Grove Township Supervisor during many of Serchuk's years as highway commissioner.
"He had a big heart," Vanderweel said. "Anything he did was for the good of the people, the township and the Republican Organization."
One of his lasting contributions to the Elk Grove Township Republican Organization was the annual family picnic, held in Busse Woods.
Serchuk worked with Carl Hansen, the longtime county board member and a former Elk Grove Township Republican Committeeman who founded the township's Republican organization, as well as Vanderweel and others to design the picnic, which debuted in 1980.
"It was the camaraderie," Vanderweel says, "having a chance to meet with other Republicans from the township, and meet state and local candidates."
The summer picnic clicked, and over the years has drawn an average of 3,000 people each summer, Vanderweel says. It now is a joint effort between all of the Northwest suburban townships, including Barrington, Elk Grove, Hanover Park, Maine, Palatine, Schaumburg and Wheeling, and celebrated its 35th anniversary last year.
Back in 1992, however, the picnic drew its biggest dignitary, President George H.W. Bush, who appeared to back local Republican candidates and build support for his candidacy for a second term, which he had just announced. Bush's appearance drew 5,000 people, officials say.
"We set up a game of horseshoes, because we heard the president liked to pitch horseshoes, but it stormed," Vanderweel says. "It rained and rained, but people stood outside waiting to see the president.
"When he appeared, a secret service agent was holding an umbrella, but (Bush) told him to put it away and he stood in the rain to make his speech," Vanderweel added. "That made a big impression on people."
Serchuk is survived by his wife, Nancy, and son, Eric. No services are planned.