'It's a loss for the city': Mr. Elgin Post 57 Don Sleeman dies
Lifelong Elginite and American Legion Post 57 mainstay Don Sleeman died early Tuesday morning at the age of 92.
Often referred to as "Mr. Elgin Post 57," Sleeman had been a member for over 66 years and held nearly every post leadership position, including three stints as commander.
Elgin City Council member Rose Martinez said Sleeman was a mentor to her when she joined the Legion.
"He is Mr. American Legion," Martinez said. "He is somebody who was so loyal, so knowledgeable. I've never met anybody like that. He was such a good man, and it's a terrible loss for Elgin and the American Legion."
During the Korean War, Sleeman served as a supply sergeant stationed in Japan from February 1952 to June 1953.
In addition to his work with the American Legion, Sleeman was a member of the Elgin Patriotic Memorial Association for more than 60 years and served as president for more than a decade. He coordinated Memorial Day events and instituted the Avenue of Flags at the Bluff City Ceremony. He also worked closely with other civic and veterans organizations and city employees in coordinating Veterans Day, Flag Day, and New Citizens Recognition programs.
Mayor David Kaptain, a neighbor of Sleeman's, said his service went beyond the Legion, including his efforts to save the "Old Main" building, home of the Elgin Historical Society.
"It's a loss for the city," Kaptain said. "He did a lot of good things outside of his work with veterans throughout our community."
In February, Elgin renamed a portion of Chester Avenue, between Dundee Avenue and Liberty Street near the American Legion post, to Donald J. Sleeman Avenue.
When asked to speak following the sign unveiling, Sleeman gave his take on service.
"When you see something that you can improve, you see someone who needs help, do it," he said. "Don't procrastinate. Just do it, and you'll have a better life.
"And I feel that I've had one hell of a good life."
Visitations will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. Monday and 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at Symonds-Madison Funeral Home in Elgin. Funeral services will be held there at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.