'A different kind of public servant': Former McHenry Co. Clerk Schultz dies
Former McHenry County Clerk Katherine Schultz, who worked for the county for 55 years before her retirement in 2014, was remembered this week as a dedicated, hands-on and hardworking public official by those who knew her.
Schultz, 79, died Friday, March 12, at JourneyCare in Barrington, according to her obituary. Born in Woodstock on Oct. 5, 1941, Schultz began her career at the McHenry County courthouse on Oct. 16, 1959, and was elected county clerk for the first time in 1990 and served six terms in the office.
"I always enjoyed telling people she got started in McHenry County government when Dwight Eisenhower was president," County Administrator Pete Austin said. "There wasn't any part of her job that she didn't know."
Schultz was honored at her retirement in a 2014 resolution by the Illinois General Assembly, and the Illinois Association of County Clerks and Recorders named her "County Clerk of the Year" in 2011. Outside of her work, Schultz loved bowling, golf, traveling and was an avid reader, according to her obituary.
To honor her years of service, the road leading into the McHenry County Administration Building parking lot was named Honorary Katherine C. Schultz Way in October 2009.
Under Schultz's leadership, McHenry County was the first large county to use optical scanning voting machines.
Without her, "the county might still be counting ballots by hand," McHenry County Clerk Joe Tirio said.
Schultz wasn't the type of boss to just delegate tasks and have other people figure out the job. Instead, Austin remembered, she was a "working boss" with a passion for service.
"That is reflective in the length of time that she served," Austin said. "When you get into your 50th year of work, you don't need to be working. You're not doing it because you need to. You're doing it because you want to. That's a different kind of public servant."
Always easy and approachable, Schultz's staff really enjoyed working with her and for her, Austin said.
A "local person through and through," Austin said, Schultz was very representative of McHenry County.
"She loved the work, and she loved the people in McHenry County," Austin said.
McHenry County Clerk's Office employees Cheryl Zito, Yolanda Travis and Meghan Honea said in a statement that it was a privilege and an honor to work for Schultz.
"She always considered herself a 'working' county clerk which meant she worked right alongside her employees," they said. "She ran a tough office but had much respect from her staff."
As Schultz was an avid Green Bay Packers fan in an office of Bears fans, the office had a "playful rivalry," staff said.
When Tirio shared news of Schultz's death with other clerks around the state, their response was surprise, then reverence.
"Kathy was an important part of McHenry County history and a benchmark against which all county clerks will be measured," Tirio said. "I and my staff pray for peace for her family as they work through this sad time."
McHenry County Circuit Clerk Katherine Keefe wrote on Facebook that Schultz was a mentor to her and many others.
"She was a dedicated elected official," Keefe said.
Schultz is survived by her husband, Paul; son, Timothy Schultz; two grandchildren, Bobbi Sennett and Katherine Paige Schultz; brother, Glenn Cross; and two sisters, Dodie Streit and Peggy Joosten, as well as multiple stepchildren and step-grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Donald; two brothers, Emery and Rick Cross; daughter, Cynthia Swan; and granddaughter, Tonya Guercio.