Historical society, chamber, church volunteer is Batavia's Citizen of the Year

  • Georgene Kauth O'Dwyer of Batavia, shown here with Mayor Jeff Schielke in 2009, has been named Citizen of the Year by the Batavia Chamber of Commerce.

    Georgene Kauth O'Dwyer of Batavia, shown here with Mayor Jeff Schielke in 2009, has been named Citizen of the Year by the Batavia Chamber of Commerce. Daily Herald file photo, April 2009

  • Georgene Kauth O'Dwyer is the 2018 Batavia Citizen of the Year.

    Georgene Kauth O'Dwyer is the 2018 Batavia Citizen of the Year.

 
 
Updated 11/29/2018 3:37 PM

Georgene Kauth O'Dwyer doesn't like to toot her own horn.

"I am involved in a lot, but I don't do big things," she says.

 

Other Batavians disagree with that "big things" assessment, however, and that's why the Batavia Chamber of Commerce has named her its 2018 Citizen of the Year.

"Georgene impacts Batavia citizens through selflessly sharing her talents and encourages others to share theirs," wrote Tony Winter, in his letter nominating her.

O'Dwyer "makes the world a kinder, gentler and more supportive place," said Mayor Jeff Schielke, in a news release from the chamber.

O'Dwyer, who is 85, moved to Batavia in 1958 with her first husband, the late Walter Kauth. They were married 52 years, and raised three daughters. She later married the late Dr. John O'Dwyer.

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Her Batavia volunteer work began with stints as a room mother at Grace McWayne Elementary School, then with its PTO. It was the beginning of a long list.

For the past 40 years, she has opened and closed the Batavia Depot Museum on weekends. She's on the board of the Batavia Historical Society.

When she worked for Batavia Bank, she did publicity for the city's sesquicentennial. She also would visit residents of The Holmstad retirement home to help them with banking needs.

"She doesn't just look around and notice things that need attention. She takes action. Georgene is the person who does something," said Dan Hoefler of the historical society, noting her work on the committee designing the expansion of the museum and raising money for it.

Schielke sees O'Dwyer a lot, as she attends all the ribbon-cuttings for new businesses in her role as a Chamber Ambassador (the chamber staff calls her "Gramma George.") He counts on her to fill him in historical facts of buildings, he said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

O'Dwyer is a member of Holy Cross Catholic Church in Batavia, where she taught Sunday school and served on the parish council, and where she still distributes prayer shawls, cooks meals for a homeless shelter and more.

She consulted her priest, after being informed she was named Citizen of the Year. "I was so confused, and I just didn't feel adequate for receiving such an award," O'Dwyer said. "I told Father (James) Parker that I don't feel worthy."

O'Dwyer will be honored at the chamber's annual awards dinner Jan. 24.

Besides business awards, the chamber will present the "Spirit of Batavia" award to the Batavia United Way, in large part for its implementation of the 2-1-1 social services information program in Kane County.

It also set records for its "Success by 6" program, providing 29 kindergarten-enrichment scholarships, and its "Adopt A Family" holiday program, which served 120 families.

"Inspire 2019: A Celebration of Those Who Inspire Us!" will be held at the Nagel Emporium at Marmion Academy's Abbey Farms, 2855 Hart Road in Aurora. For ticket information, register online at BataviaChamber.org or call (630) 879-7134.

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