George Pradel (1937-2018)
Wszyscy będziemy bardzo ciepło wspominać naszego ulubionego burmistrza Naperville, przyjaciela wszystkich mieszkańców naszego miasta. George Pradel, człowiek o wielkim sercu i wspaniałym humorze, obdarzony niebywałą charyzmą a jednocześnie ogromną skromnością dał się pokochać wielu. Na zawsze pozostanie w naszych sercach.
Chcieliśmy się podzielić wspomnieniami Wojtka Dubisa:
I first met George Pradel during one of the introductory get-togethers of the Polish Friends of Naperville Club. Having to visit Naperville’s City Hall was an adventure on its own for me since prior to this visit, I would only go to a place like that to pay a ticket. Instead, I was there invited, with an opportunity to see up-close & personal the hallways of a place where the shape of one of the greatest cities in the greatest country in the world was being decided! And that was my new hometown.
Walking in to one of the lower-level meeting rooms, I quickly dove into cookies and coffee, hoping I would eat, drink and sit quietly for half-an-hour before returning home. Fortunately, however, there were many cookies and pastries to chose from, forcing me to eventually end up in front of an unimposing, humble looking gentleman. In my over caffeine-nated brainless first response thought, I figured – here was another poor, lost soul in search of social contacts and familiar complaints – just like me! Happily, I introduced myself, just to realize that that ordinary-looking dude did not speak a word of Polish, which then triggered another thought that, perhaps, the man had been really lost and should have been in another meeting room. Ready to offer my advice, I was suddenly struck by his response. “Hello, my name is George Pradel. I’m the mayor of Naperville.”
…And that was just the beginning! The humble, unimposing man, who built this amazing city, that towers over the entire western suburbs of Chicago, that shines with some of the best schools, booming downtown’s infrastructure, loved river walk, a history to rival any other town in America and vibrant and proud multi-ethnic population with fascinating daily life – remained an ordinary, straight-forward member of the Polish Friends of Naperville Club. In the days when many of us were pioneering our lives in America, being on the move to this enormous and ever-growing, as we must have thought then, suburb of Chicago, he made it easier for us. He welcomed us to a new life and personally provided for us a place to become a whole and expect more.
Mayor Pradel did not only open the doors of the City Hall, when even the churches kept them closed, he literally, opened his heart. As cliché as it sounds, but how else to express it if? He was the host, attending nearly every meeting and allowing himself to be a friend to everyone who accepted his invitation. It would not be a cliché, not at all, no. It is an understatement, instead, to say that he was the strength that kept us together and inspired us to believe that our community was a vital part of Naperville’s communities. As a matter of fact, Mayor Pradel wasn’t only a host and soul of our Polish community in Naperville, he… how do I put it, what word will express it properly? Well, he was the Santa Claus! Literally, he was the nicest and loveliest of them all, Santas! In the days when public officials would rather attend awards ceremonies, television events and/or occasional election fund raisers, he secretly chose to put on a Santa Clause suite, grab a bag full of gifts and patiently sit next to a Christmas Tree while plastered by sneezing, chirping, crying, screaming, laughing and starring with donut-size eyes and strawberry open mouths little bugger-filled and mesmerized children of all shapes and colors. As if this wasn’t enough, Mayor Pradel would even organize a fire engine to provide a Naperville-style Santa Clause landing. How many of those kids got inspired by such rich and colorful holiday’s events? I know I did. The results of Mayor Pradel’s commitment sprung out quickly. There were more events to follow, the Polish Scholl thrived and the membership grew… and most importantly, we felt at home.
Thank you, Santa, I mean Mayor Pradel!
P.S. I’ll now keep your email & cell phone # in my heart instead of a pocket. Go on, improve heaven! Best of luck and thanks, again. We’ll miss you!
A na koniec jeszcze najnowszy artykuł z Chicago Tribune, który nawiązuje do tego wszystkiego, co nazwane zostało po naszym burmistrzu w Naperville. W artykule autor nie wspomina o ogródku na zewnątrz w Mason Sabika, ani o ciasteczkach „Pradelkach” w La Chocolat. A może ktoś z Państwa wie jeszcze o jakiejś rzeczy lub miejscu, któremu nadano imię Georga Pradel’a. Zapraszamy do komentarzy.