Life of 40-year trustee Petri celebrated in Elk Grove council chambers
There was no better place to celebrate the life of James "Jim" Paul Petri than in the Elk Grove Village council chambers he served in for four decades, though the village's public works facility that bears his name might run a close second.
Petri, who died suddenly in his home on July 23 at the age of 86, was honored Saturday in the council chambers by family, friends and an honor guard from the Elk Grove Village Veterans of Foreign Wars. Petri, known as the elder statesman of Elk Grove Village, was the longest-serving elected official in village history.
"My dad would absolutely love this," said Jennifer Kuchta, Petri's daughter. "It's such a tribute to him. It's overwhelming to see how he touched so many people. It's very moving."
An Army veteran from the Korean War era, Petri came to Elk Grove Village in 1966 and spent 45 years working for United Airlines. Petri was elected as a village board trustee in 1979 and served for 40 years before deciding in 2019 not to seek reelection for an 11th term.
At Saturday's visitation -- as an urn with Petri's ashes proudly sat at the front of the council chambers -- taps was played and a member of the Elk Grove Village VFW presented Petri's family with a folded flag in honor of his military service.
"The biggest thing about Jim was that he truly cared about Elk Grove," said Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson. "Elk Grove was always in his heart. He was ingrained in this village like no one else. We're a better village because of him."
Among the many projects aided by Petri, he helped bring $100 million in upgrades to the village's business park. He served as co-chairman of the village's Industrial/Commercial Revitalization Commission and chairman of the capital improvements committee.
Petri was also instrumental in bringing cable television and a local community access channel to Elk Grove Village.
While serving with three mayors and 18 trustees, Petri attended more than 800 village board meetings.
"He was truly amazing," said Elk Grove Village Manager Ray Rummel. "We thought it'd be a tremendous honor to have people come to the village hall and remember him and his service to the community."