Today, Mayor Emeritus A. George Pradel entered the Municipal Center for the last time. His public visitation allowed thousands to pay their respects to a man who sat at the helm of Naperville for 20 years.
“Being a member of an honor guard allows you to pay respects to the people who have set the stage for what we’re doing in our careers. Mayor Pradel was the boss of the city, a policeman, a great friend of my dad’s who was a fireman, so it’s an honor to be here. And just what he’s done for the city we want to show our respects,” said Andy Winckler, a honor guard commander for Naperville Fire Department.
From those who joined Pradel in worship and knew his giving side…
“He was always so happy and jovial and really concerned for the average person. So we served together at Loaves and Fishes and we both played Santa Claus and gave underprivileged kids presents on Christmas time,” said David Kruse, a friend of George Pradel’s from Our Savior’s Lutheran Church.
To those who worked alongside him and learned a thing or two.
“I had surgery about 15 years ago and he and the city manager at the time came to see me and he really was encouraging. It really was a pleasure to see him there by my bedside,” said retired city employee Allen Panek.
“George taught me to be patient and that all things come in due time,” said Executive Director of KidsMatter Kamala Martinez. “And he taught me to love this city and I did come to love this city. I was a transplant here and when I first came here I was struggling living in the suburbs because I was use to living in the city of Chicago, and he really helped me come to know this town and to love this town.”
There wasn’t one person in the crowd who hadn’t been impacted by “Officer Friendly.”
“And I vividly remember I was a junior at Naperville Central and he barged into the middle of my psychology class to sing happy birthday with a bunch of balloons in tow. Everyone loved him so much, and it wasn’t weird, it was funny, and it was awesome because he was Mayor Pradel and he always will be.”
The public visitation for Mayor Emeritus A. George Pradel continues tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Municipal Center.
Naperville News 17’s Christine Lena, Casey Krajewski, and Blane Erwin report.