Former St. Charles mayor receives city's highest honor
Ray Rogina has had an impact on St. Charles in many ways -- first as a teacher and then as an alderman and mayor.
During Friday's Charlemagne Awards Gala at the Q Center in St. Charles, he was presented with the city's highest honor -- the Charlemagne Award.
"For the last five-plus decades, I've had a love affair with St. Charles," Rogina said when accepting the award. "This is my home. It always will be my home. The people in this community are second to none in terms of how they treat their community and the respect they have for their community ... This award is for all the individuals that I have ever been associated with that helped me along the way and helped me shape students and then shape the community as we move forward."
The Charlemagne Award honors the lifetime achievement of an individual who has dedicated their time, efforts and talents to making the community a great place and demonstrates the essence behind the Legend of Charlemagne written by C.V. Amenoff, who served as mayor of St. Charles from 1969-1973.
The legend reveals that Charlemagne left his four sons as guardians of St. Charles to see that the city becomes a community where people could live, raise a family, work, have a business, be educated, worship and play. The first award was presented in 1967.
The award was presented by the St. Charles Area Chamber of Commerce, which also celebrated the 100th anniversary of its founding in 1922.
Rogina had a 30-year teaching career in St. Charles District 303. He was elected mayor in 2013, after serving as 3rd Ward alderman from 2011-2013.
He chose not to run for a third term last year. Fourth Ward Alderman Lora Vitek won the seat after defeating 5th Ward Alderman Maureen Lewis in last year's election.
Vitek said Rogina was her mentor.
"You deserve it," she said after he accepted the award. "You truly are a kind person, a great human and you deserve this award."
Former St. Charles city administrator Mark Koenen said Rogina is well deserving of the award.
"Ray's been so committed to the community since he came to St. Charles as a student teacher," Koenen said following the ceremony. "I think it's an acknowledgment of his success and his ability to motivate individuals to be their best."
Rogina said he was humbled by the recognition.
"I've been a public servant in this community for five decades and this certainly is a great honor," he said. "But I will never take any credit personally. Whether it was education and teaching or as alderman and mayor, it was a team effort."
Throughout his entire career, Rogina said he has tried to be an educator.
"Whether I was a teacher or an alderman or mayor, that's how I view myself," he said.