Elmhurst remembers former longtime Mayor Charles Weigel

Updated 7/13/2018 4:54 PM
  • Charles "Chuck" Weigel Jr. was active in Elmhurst organizations, a fixture at the YMCA and the city's mayor for 12 years.

    Charles "Chuck" Weigel Jr. was active in Elmhurst organizations, a fixture at the YMCA and the city's mayor for 12 years. Courtesy of the City of Elmhurst

Charles "Chuck" Weigel Jr. was one of those World War II generation guys, the kind who never stopped working, who never stopped caring, who never stopped giving.

He was a father and a businessman, and for 12 years he was the mayor of Elmhurst.

"Anything that needed to be done, he would figure it out and do it himself," said one of his four children, Dr. Mark Weigel. "He taught me about electricity and plumbing, and he worked his tail off all the time. … The word 'procrastination' was not in his vocabulary."

Weigel and his wife, Mary Ruth, moved to Elmhurst in 1948, and he quickly became involved in the community. He served as a 5th Ward alderman from 1957 to 1961 and then was elected to three terms as mayor, serving until 1973.

The city is remembering his many contributions this week in the wake of his death July 6 at age 93. Funeral services will be private.

City officials say Weigel faced several pressing issues during his tenure as mayor, including flooding that led to a major public works project to separate storm sewers and sanitary sewers, the expansion of Elmhurst Memorial Hospital, passage of a local fair housing/open housing ordinance, and the establishment of the industrial park on the city's north side.

"On behalf of (the) city council, we extend the Weigel family our deepest sympathy," Mayor Steve Morley said in a written statement. "Mayor Weigel's service to the city of Elmhurst and his outstanding achievement toward improvements have contributed to the town we know and cherish today."

Mark Weigel said his dad was a feisty and energetic man who usually woke around 2 or 3 a.m. to walk the dogs and then would visit the Elmhurst YMCA before heading off to work or city hall.

"He was always doing something," Mark Weigel said. "Always."

But his dad's favorite spot in town was the YMCA. He joined as soon as it opened in the 1960s and went there almost every day.

"He was always the first one there," Mark Weigel said. "He would be there waiting for them to open the door."

Until the past few years, the former mayor was a devoted swimmer. Even when he no longer could get in the pool, Mark Weigel would pick his dad up most mornings and the two would head to the Y. Charles would wait while Mark worked out, and then someone from the Y would drive the elder Weigel home.

He became such a fixture that Y officials have installed a memorial in his honor in the lobby.

Charles Weigel was born in 1924 in Chicago. He served in the Army Air Corps during World War II and then was recalled during the Korean War.

He graduated from the University of Illinois in 1947 with degrees in chemistry and math.

He and Mary Ruth bought a home in 1948 on Washington Street and lived there for almost the rest of their lives. He was active in the management of a small manufacturing company, Weigel-Miller Inc. in Addison.

The couple later bought land in Wisconsin, had a cabin built and spent time there almost every other week. Charles loved to be outdoors and would regularly hunt pheasant.

Back in Elmhurst, though, his life was a whirlwind. He was president and chairman of the board of the Addison Industrial Association from 1957 to 1959, a member of the Addison Chamber of Commerce board of directors in 1954, a member of the Business and Professional Men's Club of Elmhurst, vice president and member of the board of directors for the Elmhurst Rotary Club, a member of the Elmhurst YMCA board of directors, a member of the board of governors at Elmhurst Memorial Hospital, and a member of the board of the Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Arts.

He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws from Elmhurst College in 1965 and the Jaycees Distinguished Service Award in 1972.

He leaves behind four children: Mary Jo (Chastain), Charles III, Vicki (Cobb) and Mark.

Since his dad's passing, Mark Weigel says the outpouring of support from many corners of the city has given him a new appreciation for how many people's lives his dad touched.

"I feel like I'm holding up pretty well," Mark Weigel said, "but what's been rough is seeing how much he meant to other people."

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