Former Woodridge mayor, police chief Joel Kagann laid to rest Wednesday
WOODRIDGE — In his 50 years of living in the village of Woodridge, Joel Kagann did almost everything.
He served as Woodridge's first police chief, was elected as mayor and village clerk, and played a big role in a number of community groups, including the Woodridge Lions Club, the Woodridge Special Events Commission, and the local Knights of Columbus branch.
His involvement in everything Woodridge led him to the nickname "Mr. Woodridge" and moved village officials to name the plaza where village hall sits "Joel & Laurie Kagann Plaza."
Kagann, 76, died on Thursday evening after several years of declining health, according to his son, Joseph Kagann.
Visitation will be held from 3 to 8 p.m. Monday at Blake and Lamb Funeral Home in Lisle, and funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday at St. Scholastica Church in Woodridge.
Joseph Kagann, who is a Woodridge trustee, talked of his father as a man who was completely dedicated to the community in which he lived for 50 years.
“There is nothing in Woodridge that he would not do,” his son said. “He loved Woodridge and spent the majority of his life here.”
Mayor Bill Murphy, who in April will wrap up a 31-year tenure as mayor, remembered Kagann as a mentor.
“His death is a tremendous loss to the village,” Murphy said. “He did so much in the village, such as organize our police department into what is is today. He will be missed.”
Kagann's service in the community came well outside the village hall chambers, too.
Kagann was active in many social groups and clubs in town. He was a charter member of the Woodridge Lions Club, founder of the Woodridge Special Events Commission, and was active in the Boys Scouts and St. Scholastica Catholic Church, among others.
Joseph Kagann shared his fondest memory of his dad — as mayor he was able to bring in a Revolutionary War reenactment group to Woodridge for the bicentennial celebration in 1976, and his father joined in on the reenactment with a colonial era suit and garb.
“As a child, I remember wearing one of those tri-corner hats that they wore, standing there and watching the program,” Jospeh Kagann said. “I still have it, and wore it to the July 4 picnic a few years back. It is one of my fondest memories I have of my dad.”
Mike Adams, director of the Woodridge Park District, said Kagann was a big supporter of recreation in the community, and was the brains behind many community events.
“Many of these events he not only helped start, but worked to keep them going each year,” Adams said. “Joel was an integral part of the community in so many ways.”
Kagann married wife Laurie in 1967 and had two children, and two grandchildren. Laurie was also very active in Woodridge over the years, serving as the village’s first library administrator in the late 1960s until she resigned in 1986 and as an elected member of the Lisle-Woodridge Fire Protection District Board, serving as board secretary.
In 2000, the couple was selected as co-recipients of Woodridge’s prestigious Building on Our Dream Award for their significant contributions in crafting the community of Woodridge. The award spoke to their "enduring spirit and years of devoted public service," according to the village of Woodridge.
In recognition of Kagann’s passing, all village of Woodridge flags have been lowered to half-staff, officials said.
Joel Kagann, by the years
1962 to 1971: First chief of the Woodridge Police Department
1963: Moved from Chicago to Woodridge
1967: Married his wife, Laurie
1973 to 1977: Mayor of Woodridge for one term
1979 to 1981: Served as village clerk
1984: Named Woodridge “Citizen of the Year”
1979 to 1992: Deputy Clerk of the DuPage County Circuit Court
1991 to 2004: Clerk of the DuPage County Circuit Court
1990 to 2008: President of the Woodridge Police Pension Board
2009: Woodridge Village Hall Plaza is named for the Kagann family
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