Friends and colleagues are mourning the loss of a businessman who prided himself on his stores being a "chapter in the history of Naperville and surrounding communities."
C. Jay Buikema, 78, CEO of the family-owned Buikema's Ace Hardware stores, died Tuesday after a lengthy illness.
In addition to his family business interests, Buikema served as a member of the board of directors of the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce, as well as a past member of the Lions Club and Rotary Club.
Emy Trotz, executive assistant in the Naperville mayor's office, said she frequently saw Buikema's business side when he served on the Naperville chamber board and she was on staff.
"I saw someone who looked out for our community and who wanted the best for everybody," Trotz said. "He wanted the best for the businesses, but he was also very good with the staff at the time. He was a very fair person."
Outside of work, Buikema was described as a loyal friend and member of the Christian Reformed Church of Wheaton, where he met longtime friend Paul DeGroot.
"We've been friends for many years. He was flamboyant. He was quite a guy," DeGroot said Wednesday. "He loved fast cars and fast boats. He may have had one of the fastest boats on all of Lake Michigan at one time."
Buikema also was quick to help and donate to local charities, DeGroot said.
"We would frequently talk about leaving the world a better place and helping others," DeGroot said. "That was important to him and it made him happy."
Buikema also felt it important that his employees knew the history of the hardware store franchise his parents built in 1948 with their first store on Chicago Avenue in Naperville.
DeGroot said Buikema was known for having new employees read and sign a copy of the two-page document titled "Buikema's Ace Hardware History."
Buikema is survived by his wife Dorothy "Dot" Buikema, his sons, Kyle (Patty) Buikema and Kerry Buikema, and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Beidelman-Kunsch Funeral Home & Crematory, 516 S. Washington St., Naperville. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at the funeral home with visitation starting at 10 a.m.
Memorials may be made to Evangelical Child & Family Agency, 1530 N. Main St., Wheaton, IL 60187.