Remember those we lost in 2023

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At the end of year we take time to remember and honor a few notable community contributors who have left us.  They are coaches, developers, business leaders, veterans and volunteers. 

While we are sad at their passing we are grateful for their contributions to make our community better. 

Lowell “Bud” Berger

Bud Berger graduated from North Central College in 1948, where he was a two-time All-Conference basketball player for the Cardinals. While attending NCC, he met the love of his life, Lois Stauffer. They were married in 1949 and had three children.  Bud began teaching and coaching at Naperville High School, which eventually became Naperville Central. Starting as a track coach, Berger eventually started the cross-country program at the school in 1958. His track and field teams won 13 consecutive conference championships. As the boys cross country coach, he amassed a record of 140-17 in dual meets, nine consecutive conference titles, and a second-place state finish in 1966

Louis “Sonny” Campfield 

Sonny Campfield worked as a restaurant server at Naperville’s White Eagle Golf Club for 29 years, Serving the members was what he enjoyed the most, with many becoming friends. 

His coworkers and members of White Eagle Golf Club often noted his dry, witty sense of humor. When he wasn’t at work, he liked to go fishing and spend time with his family or traveling.

Dan Casey 

Dan Casey was most recognized for the grocery store in Naperville that bore his name, but he was beloved for his quiet and gentle service to others, which showed his character and integrity. That came through both in his role as a business owner as well as in countless hours spent in service on numerous boards. 

Dan’s biggest commitment was to Little Friends.  He was the first recipient of its Dottee Krejci Memorial Award for Distinguished Service.

Al DeGeeter  

The Naperville community was Al DeGeeter’s passion, and whether he got to know it through his work or through his many volunteer roles, he was fully invested in it.  

Al was a proud member of the Naperville Jaycees since the late 1960s, and affectionately became known to the group as “The Godfather.” 

He worked at Dean’s Fine Clothing, a business started by his brother Dean, for more than 50 years. He watched the long-time Naperville store grow over the years, with its ownership eventually changing hands to his nephew, Greg. In 2019, the business marked its 60-year anniversary.

Gilbert Michael “Mike” Ellman

Gilbert Michael “Mike” Ellman Jr. was a trombonist with the Naperville Municipal Band and a familiar figure in other bands throughout the western suburbs, including the College of DuPage Jazz Ensemble and the DuPage Symphony Orchestra.

Mike was also the top educational representative for his family’s Naperville-based music store, Ellman’s Music Center, and was known widely among the area’s school band directors and orchestra directors.

Born to musician parents, Mike began playing the trombone around the age of nine.  He graduated in 1979 from Naperville North High School, where he was awarded the John Philip Sousa Award., and he started working in his family’s business a few years later, 

John “Alan” Fry

John “Alan” Fry was the first chairman of the Indian Prairie Educational Foundation and  championed fine arts in ISPD 204 since its inception. He also served as chairman of the Corporate Board of the former Naperville YMCA, and as a board member of Harris Bank, now BMO.

Alan’s leadership and the Fry Family’s commitment to the community was recognized with the naming of the Fry Family YMCA and the Fry Elementary School in their honor.

Alan led the growth of Naperville with such land development of subdivisions in south Naperville and Plainfield, such as Tamarack Golf Club, Walker’s Grove, Wilding Pointe, Sutton Place, and many others. 

Alan transitioned John Fry Realtor to Fry Properties as he succeeded his father as CEO of the companies that he led with his brothers, Larry and Gordon Fry. 

Charmaine “Char” Gregory 

 While roller skating at Parkview Roller Rink in Aurora. Charmaine “Char” Gregory met and fell in love with Lawrence Alan Gregory, a local farm boy.  After marrying in 1952, Char and Larry started a family, having three sons and one daughter. During that time, Larry started his electrical contracting business, which Char helped him build.

Char was well known for her interest, knowledge, and involvement in health and fitness. She was given the YMCA Outstanding Volunteer of the Year Award in 1990. She was especially proud to have helped establish the Grace Church Temple Builders exercise group, that she led for nearly 50 years. 

Kevin Martin D’Souza

Kevin Martin D’Souza lost his lifelong battle against congenital heart disease (CHD) this year at the age of 41. But his life was a triumph, as most

CHD toddlers treated with a Fontan palliative surgery in the early 1980s did not live beyond the age of 20. Kevin made it through having 11 open-heart surgeries, a single lung, a pacemaker, and many procedures, joyfully celebrating his 40th birthday in September 2022.  

He was known for doing things with style and making every day count. It was Kevin’s wish to be an organ and tissue donor, and he wanted his heart to be studied so CHD children might celebrate more birthdays. 

Pat Nicarico 

Pat Nicarico began life on the East Coast where she met her husband, Tom, on a blind date.  They married, and she became a Navy wife, which eventually led the couple to Naperville.   Pat and Tom had three daughters, Christine, Kathy, and Jeanine.

She served as the head secretary at Ellsworth Elementary School for nearly 20 years before her retirement.

But the incident that forever changed her life happened in 1983, when her youngest daughter Jeanine was abducted, sexually assaulted, and murdered.

The family would come together and create a lasting memory in her honor.  They established the Jeanine Nicarico Memorial Fund for Literacy, awarding grants to educators or schools to promote a deeper understanding of literacy and provide opportunities for learners within Naperville. Pat served as the co-director of the fund.

Pat was a friend to many, but the true joy of her life was her family. She adored being a grandparent and treasured her time with those she loved.

Glenda “Kay” Smith – Elegant Salons and Day Spa 

Glenda “Kay” Smith learned the business of beauty early in life,  playing in her mother’s beauty shop as a child in the family home in Fairfield, Iowa.  Kay would later build her own salon business, Elegante Salon, at 111 W. Jackson Street in downtown Naperville.  

Elegante Salons would eventually grow to include three full-service locations, each with day spas. At least 700 people were employed there over the 45 years Kay owned and managed the businesses, from 1972 to 2017.

In 2002, Kay was recognized as the Illinois Governor’s Small Business Person of the Year.

Eleanor Preston 

Eleanor grew up as a farm girl, graduating From Mendota High School. In 1945 she met the love of her life, Clifford Preston. After he completed his service in the U.S. Navy, they married in 1948. They settled in Naperville in 1952 to raise their family. 

Eleanor was a real partner to Cliff and supported him every day in his business, Preston Builders. She volunteered for 25 years at Edward Hospital and was a very active member of Grace United Methodist Church. 

Owen C. Wavrinek 

Owen Wavrinek was the longest-serving member of Indian Prairie School District 204 Board of Education, having served for 21 years, with four of those as president.  He was the namesake of Owen Elementary School in Naperville. 

When he learned of the plans to name a school for him in 2002, he asked that the district use his first name, “Owen,” as it was also his mother’s maiden name, and would then honor the educators on her side of the family. 

Andrew Charles “Mike” Wehrli

Mike was born September 18, 1926, the sixth of 13 children, born to Frank and Gertrude (nee Hiltenbrand) Wehrli. 

He proudly served in the U.S. Army in 1945-1946 and was honorably discharged. He then attended North Central College in Naperville, as well as the University of Illinois in Champaign/Urbana, where he studied engineering.

Mike married Audra C. Herbert on May 5, 1951.  They were married for 69 years before her death in 2020. 

He worked in sales and, along with a few business associates, established Repco Associates, Inc., manufacturer reps for commercial plumbing supplies. He was also involved in the Naperville community and was elected to the District 203 School Board from 1970 to 1973 and again from 1978 to 1981, serving as president in 1979.

Daniel “Dan” Alan Wolf

Dan Wolf believed in the American dream and was the only child from a single mother. Through hard work and determination, Dan worked through the ranks, founding the Dan Wolf Automotive Group in 1971. This 27-year-old dealer principal created a culture of timeless hospitality for his employees and guests that is  known throughout the community. 

 A father of two when he founded his business, Dan always understood the importance of family and built the culture of the Dan Wolf Automotive Group around that ideal. Dan and the Wolf family help found and support Turning Pointe Autism Foundation

Those featured in this article were chosen because of their connection to the community.  We recognize we may not have inadvertently missed someone.  We hope that through this gesture, we honor all those who have passed in 2023.  


  • Beidleman-Kunch Funeral Home and Cremetorium
  • Friedrich-Jones Funeral Home and Cremetorium

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