Henry Paulus, long time Lake Zurich mayor, dead at 89

  • Henry Paulus, seen here in a photo that was believed to have been taken at his mayoral retirement ceremony in 1989, died Thursday night.

    Henry Paulus, seen here in a photo that was believed to have been taken at his mayoral retirement ceremony in 1989, died Thursday night. Photo courtesy of Michael Paulus


Henry Paulus, who helped shape Lake Zurich during its transition from small town to suburban community during his 20 years as mayor, died Thursday night at the JourneyCare hospice center in Barrington.

He was 89 years old.

The cause of death was complications from bile duct cancer, his family said Friday.

Paulus was remembered Friday as a kind man who was dedicated to the community.

"He was a great person as a human being, the nicest guy you'll ever meet," said Dennis Abbott, the owner of Bill's Boats marina in Lake Zurich. "His main concern was the good of the village."

Paulus and his wife Mary moved to Lake Zurich in 1954 at a time when the village was experiencing its initial population increase from just 850 residents in 1950 to 3,458 in 1960. He was first elected to public office in 1961 when he became village clerk. He became a trustee in 1968 before being elected mayor in 1969. He served five terms, leaving office in 1989. By 1990, the village had grown to 14,947 residents, according to U.S. Census Data.

"He was probably one of the most impactful people in the way Lake Zurich is today," current Mayor Tom Poynton said Friday. "The essential look of the village came together during his reign."

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According to the Ela Historical Society, Paulus helped lure the village's first subdivision, Old Mill Grove on Route 22, in 1970. He oversaw the creation of the village's water and sewer systems and also helped open the village's industrial park. During the 1960s and 1970s, Paulus and the other elected officials and volunteers conducted most of the village's business. In the 1980s, he hired Wayne Doughty to be Lake Zurich's first village administrator.

Paulus said in an interview with the Ela Historical Society in 2011 that his main delight was the purchase of land for parks, particularly for Pleasant Acres, which was later renamed Paulus Park in his honor.

Paulus stayed involved in the community after his mayoral service ended. He was appointed to the Zoning Board of Appeals in 1993 and served at times as chairman and vice chairman until 2015, adding to his half century of service to the village.

Henry Paulus' grandson Michael Paulus, who previously worked for the village and is now a candidate for a seat on the village board, said he was lucky to grow up hearing how great his grandfather was from seemingly everyone he would meet in town.


"He took an interest in everyone's life and made them feel special when he talked to them," Michael Paulus said.

Michael Paulus said recently a cashier at the Jewel on Ela Road asked him how his grandfather was doing because he hadn't been by the store in a while.

"I told her he was sick and she started tearing up," Michael Paulus said. "He went so far as to affect the lady who would check out his groceries."

A visitation for Henry Paulus will run from 3 to 8 p.m. on Sunday at Ahlgrim Family Funeral Home, at 415 S. Buesching Road in Lake Zurich. The funeral mass will be at 10 a.m. on Monday at St. Francis de Sales Church, at 33 Buesching Road, Lake Zurich.

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