'Proud to carry the name': Carol Stream remembers village's namesake
There's a minor detail in the story of how Carol Stream got its name: Carol Stream, the person it's named after, never actually lived there.
How much time Carol Stream spent in Carol Stream was of little consequence to the town's residents, who claimed her as one of their own. And Carol Stream herself delighted in her status as a living legend in the village that bears her full name.
"She was very proud of it though she never lived here," Trustee Rick Gieser said. "She was always proud to carry the name."
Stream, who grew up in neighboring Wheaton, died Saturday near Paradise Valley, Arizona, shortly after her 77th birthday.
Her father was the village's founder, Jay Stream, the larger-than-life developer who built the town out of farmland, hand-picked its leaders and named the community after his daughter during her recovery from a tragic car accident.
"She suffered severe injuries that affected her for the rest of her life," Gieser said.
In August 1957, a 14-year-old Stream and her friends were driving near her family's summer home in Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, when their car collided with another vehicle. A 15-year-old boy died, and Stream was left in a coma.
According to local mythology, Jay Stream whispered his decision to name his new housing development after his daughter into her ear, miraculously rousing Carol from her coma and inspiring her recovery. But his daughter later said her immortalization as the village's namesake wasn't so dramatic.
"It's an amazing story, but it's a lot of talk," she told the Daily Herald in 2006. "Just talk. I'm supposed to have woken up when I heard that. I don't know where people get that from."
Stream and her mother, Dorothy, moved to Arizona in 1957 after her parents split up. The village was officially incorporated on Jan. 5, 1959.
Her father, who died in 2006, eventually retired to California in the 1960s, opening a farm for Arabian horses and working as a manager for Wayne Newton.
But his daughter enjoyed a rare honor usually reserved for early pioneers or landowners.
"I get a kick out of thinking, 'Eat your heart out Elizabeth Taylor. My name's in bigger lights than yours ever was,'" Stream said in 2006.
About two years later, Gieser visited Stream's Arizona home during a spring break trip with his wife and son to see his mother-in-law. Stream collected vehicle stickers, maps and other village keepsakes sent to her over the years.
"She was very gracious, her and her mother and her brother," Gieser said.
Stream kept in touch with village staff and corresponded with Gieser through letters, Christmas cards and phone calls.
Before health setbacks kept her from traveling, Stream last visited the village in 2010 at the time of a reunion for the Wheaton high schools. She "loved every minute of it," said Mayor Frank Saverino, who has a picture with Stream and his granddaughter.
"It was a wonderful time that we got to spend with her," Saverino said.
Stream met with students at Carol Stream Elementary School, attended the Carol Stream Fire District's open house, toured the industrial park and the rest of the village. Stunned by the area's development, Stream recalled how her family lived along a dusty, two-lane Geneva Road before it became a major thoroughfare, Gieser said.
"She was amazed at how large the community had grown," he said.
On Monday, village board members planned to hold a moment of silence in tribute to Stream before their meeting. Services have not yet been announced.
Saverino vowed to "keep that name proud."