Chad Raymond lived the motto, 'Service Above Self'
Nancy Raymond always got a kick out of it.
"We always thought that was pretty funny, that a librarian would come from Story City," she said of her husband, Chadwick, or as he was known in Northbrook, Chad.
The executive director of the Northbrook Public Library for 30 years, from 1985-2015, Chad Raymond came to the post after four years as director of the Addison Public Library. His first director position was at the Lincoln Township Public Library in Stevensville, Michigan, from 1977-81.
Nancy recalled a speech in which her husband said his career began "by getting in trouble."
She was a student volunteer in the library at Roland-Story High School near Ames, Iowa, where they both attended. In the library, Chad "could not not talk to me," she said.
"The librarian kept shushing him and shushing him and shushing him, and he eventually got kicked out of the library for two weeks," Nancy said.
Not holding a grudge, head librarian Hilda Henryson later wrote a recommendation for Chad to enter the University of Michigan master's program in library science.
Chad ended that speech by saying he hadn't been in trouble since graduating from Roland-Story in 1971.
But over 49 years of marriage, never could he not not talk to Nancy.
"He told me nobody would love me better than he, and he proved that his whole life," said Nancy Raymond, who met Chad in Sunday school at St. Petri Lutheran Church in Story City. Their grandmothers were best friends, card-playing and quilting buddies.
"It's just one of those special things, a coming together. We were good for each other. He saw my best and I saw his best. Loving each other is putting each other before you, and we both did that," she said.
On Jan. 11, Mr. Raymond died in his Northbrook home at age 68.
"Chad Raymond was a wonderful man," said Northbrook Village President Sandy Frum. "He cared deeply for our community and all the people in it. He was sweet and unassuming, always willing to go the last mile to make a difference."
She also remembered him, with Nancy there alongside, as "the premier bratwurst cook at Northbrook Days." A lifetime member of the festival's parent organization, the Northbrook Civic Foundation, that was among Mr. Raymond's many civic engagements.
He served in several capacities in various churches, and was an assistant chaplain at Skyword Ministries at O'Hare International Airport. Mr. Raymond also volunteered for Habitat for Humanity in Mexico and domestically.
A Rotarian for 39 years, he served a term as president and on the membership committee of the Rotary Club of Northbrook. A Paul Harris Fellow, he was a Rotarian of the year for 2007-08, his wife said.
"He lived the motto, 'Service Above Self,'" Nancy Raymond said.
In 1991, he also became a registered parliamentarian, an expert in rules of order for meetings. Mr. Raymond advocated for libraries across the state as co-chair of the Illinois State Library Advisory Council and also as a member of the Illinois Library Association Public Policy Committee, said current Northbrook Public Library Executive Director Kate Hall.
"He was a fixture in the larger Illinois library landscape," Hall said.
And at home, too, in Northbrook, where Mr. Raymond visited employees in each department during what he called his daily "walk-arounds."
"He was devoted to the library, but his real passion was for the staff that he worked with and the patrons that we serve," said Northbrook Public Library human resources manager Laurie Prioletti, who worked with Mr. Raymond for eight years -- after he established her position.
"He set a tone for respect and kindness in the workplace," she said.
Mr. Raymond enjoyed reading, of course, even scouring the dictionary for interesting words. Fearless on a motorcycle when younger, in Iowa "he was a legend, a motorcycle Evel Knievel," Nancy said. Yet he put motorcycles aside in deference to Nancy's father, Walter, who thought them dangerous.
"He was the most generous and kind person I've ever met and I'll miss him," she said of her husband.
"He was content. I think that's so rare in this world, but he was content. We loved each other, we had enough, and we had a deep and abiding faith. It gets us through.
"I think his legacy will live on," Nancy said. "As people remember him, maybe they can incorporate a little bit of that in their treatment of each other. That would be a legacy for him."
Born Jan. 4, 1953, in Ames, Iowa, and preceded in death by his parents, Virgil and Solveig Raymond, along with Nancy he is survived by sons Jason (Melissa) of Libertyville and Lucas (Kristen) of Grayslake, brother Scott (Carolyn), four grandchildren and two step-grandchildren, and numerous relatives.
Following Mr. Raymond's death, a gathering was held with immediate family at his home, according to N.H. Scott & Hanekamp Funeral Home. Due to COVID restrictions, no additional services are planned.
Memorials may be made to Smile Train (mysmiletrain.org), Skyword Ministries (moodychurch.org/skyword-ministries) and Rotary ShelterBox (shelterboxusa.org/donate/).