Remembering Naperville’s Glen Ekey

Glen Ekey
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Former Naperville Park District Executive Director Glen Ekey died this morning October 23, 2020 at his home in south Naperville.

Ekey served as the head of the park district from 1981-1996, the longest-serving executive director in the park district’s history.

Legacy and Accomplishments

Ekey brought the idea of Ribfest to Naperville in 1987, oversaw the construction of Naperbrook Golf Course in 1991, and was influential in the early years of the Riverwalk. In a 2016 interview with NCTV17, Ekey called the riverwalk Naperville’s “crown jewel.”

“We were all really excited about the opportunity when we got to take over the maintenance, the operation [of the riverwalk],” he said. “I think it was a nice, cohesive opportunity for the city government and park district to partner.”

That collaborative spirit is one part of Ekey that friends and family will remember.

“He was a community collaborator.” said Naperville Bank and Trust President Tom Miers, a longtime friend of Ekey’s. “He was known for getting everyone to the table – the Y, the city, the park district, the schools… I think in my mind, that was one of the greatest things Glen Ekey did.”

Ekey received the Illinois Park and Recreation Association Robert M. Artz Award in 1994, recognizing his lasting impact and awareness of the importance of parks and recreation in his community.

In an email shared with park district staff this morning, current park district Executive Director Ray McGury called Ekey a close friend and mentor.

“His passion for parks and recreation and his vision to preserve land here in Naperville from developers for all of us to enjoy is but one of his many contributions to this community and our park district,” McGury wrote.

Outside the Park District

Glen Ekey

Ekey also sat on the board for the YMCA, was an avid golfer, shooter, and, according to Miers, had quite the sweet tooth.

“I was joking with people today that he would go skiing and he would have a chocolate donut with a can of Slimfast,” Miers said. “He loved junk food. I said to someone this morning, ‘you better sell your Hostess stock because as soon as they find out he’s gone, the numbers will go down.”

According to Positively Naperville, arrangements for Ekey are being provided by Friedrich Jones Funeral Home in Naperville.

Ekey was was 79 years old.

Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.