City mourns St. Charles 'champion' Vern Oie

  • Vernon "Vern" Oie, in 2003, when he received the Barth Award.

    Vernon "Vern" Oie, in 2003, when he received the Barth Award.

 
 
Updated 7/30/2020 5:04 PM

Businessman. Actor. Volunteer. Nature enthusiast. Dishwasher.

Vernon "Vern" Oie of St. Charles had his hands in many endeavors in the Tri-Cities over the past nine decades.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Oie, 93, died July 25.

"Vern had many wonderful sayings, and the one that he exemplified is: 'If you're going to get involved in something, then do it to make things better, not worse,'" his family wrote in an obituary.

Oie received two prestigious awards for community service: the Barth Award from Tri-City Family Services and the Charlemagne Award from the St. Chamber of Commerce. The latter he shared with his wife, Sharon, who survives him.

"He gets you so fired up because he believes in the project," Sharon Oie said at the Barth ceremony, about Oie's ability to get other people involved in community service projects.

St. Charles Mayor Ray Rogina said Oie "was always a champion for St. Charles," and said he thought of Vern and Sharon as a partnership. The city dedicated a sculpture to the couple in 2018.

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According to a 1998 Daily Herald article, Oie's first job was washing metal ice cream containers for Colonial Ice Cream of St. Charles in 1940. "That was the lowliest job in the place," Oie said. "On a warm summer day, they could get a little ripe."

But it brought him into contact with the owner, Joe K. Anderson. Anderson helped establish the Tri-City Corps of the Salvation Army, and Oie led the fundraising effort to build its new center, named after his old boss, in the 1990s.

Oie served in the Army, and graduated from Oregon State University. He met Sharon while working in Springfield as a conservationist for the state. They married in 1951.

Oie retired as a marketing director for Valley Community Bank. He was also an owner of Fox Valley Cleaners, a family business.

He served on the boards of Delnor Hospital and Delnor-Community Hospital for 30 years. He served with the St. Charles and Batavia MainStreet business organizations, and was a founding member of the River Corridor Partnership that beautified the Fox River banks in downtown St. Charles.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

He and Sharon were involved with the Playmakers theatrical troupe. Oie also sang in the choir at Baker Memorial United Methodist Church in St. Charles.

Oie served on the board, including a stint as chairman, of the Fox Valley Community Airport Authority, which ran the DuPage County Airport in St. Charles from the mid-1960s to 1987.

But one post eluded him: mayor. He lost to incumbent Fred Norris in 1993.

"This man has accomplished more for public service than he ever could have in a public role," former mayor Sue Klinkhamer said, when presenting Oie the Barth Award in 2003.

Funeral arrangements will be announced later.

Memorial gifts may be made to the River Glen of St. Charles Benevolent Fund, 975 N. Fifth Ave., St. Charles.

Oie is survived by his sons, David and Chris; two grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; and his brother, Robert.

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