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Local News

Wheaton names former councilman 'outstanding citizen'

95-year-old continues to keep active at Windsor Park retirement community

Juliana (from left) and Richard Gerig celebrate after Richard was named Outstanding Citizen of the City of Wheaton, an honor bestowed to only three other individuals in the city’s history.
Juliana (from left) and Richard Gerig celebrate after Richard was named Outstanding Citizen of the City of Wheaton, an honor bestowed to only three other individuals in the city’s history.

WHEATON – Richard Gerig's list of contributions to the city of Wheaton is long – including two stints on the Wheaton City Council.

For his many contributions to the city's well-being, the 95-year-old recently was named Outstanding Citizen of the City of Wheaton. The award has not been presented often, making it a big honor for the individual receiving it.

"This is the fourth time it has been given out in 35 years," Wheaton Mayor Michael Gresk said, in presenting the award to Gerig in January.

Through his many activities, Gerig has made his name known in the community.

"When he ran for City Council, he had no campaign, no organization, didn't put out any mailings, didn't raise money and didn't put up signs," Gresk said. "People simply saw his name on the ballot and elected him."

Gerig said he was completely surprised to receive the award.

"I don't feel any more worthy of this than anybody else," he said.

Besides serving on the Wheaton City Council, Gerig also was on the Wheaton Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Wheaton Historic Preservation Council Board of Directors and Wheaton Sesquicentennial Commission.

Gerig also has been involved with other activities around the community, including being the music director at Wheaton Bible Church and serving two terms on the church's board of elders.

Gerig moved to Wheaton in 1958, when he started working for Wheaton College's public relations department, where he worked until 1989.

"Being on the staff of Wheaton College was a real fulfillment for me," Gerig said. "I had a very happy experience. Being involved in church activities was another very fulfilling experience."

Gerig is a 1949 graduate of Wheaton College. His wife, Juliana, also graduated that year.

She is proud of what her husband has accomplished in his lifetime.

"He's been so into everything," she said. "He was interested in people."

Even after moving in 2000 to Windsor Park retirement community in Carol Stream, Gerig still keeps active. He served as Windsor Park's choral director/coordinator from 2002 to 2011, and he has served as a Bible teacher since 2011 at the retirement community.

"I love to share the Bible with other people," he said.

The word "retire" is not part of his vocabulary.

"Mentally and spiritually, I never retired," Gerig said. "I want to be active in some way as long as I can, as long as the Lord gives me opportunity."

Windsor Park officials also are happy Gerig has continued to give back while living at the community.

"We congratulate Dick on this deserving honor," Executive Director Ryan Hust said in a statement. "We are blessed Dick chose to call Windsor Park home. He has continued his legacy of blending his faith and desire to serve those around him at Windsor, by directing one of our choirs and teaching Bible study. Dick's characteristic humility is present in everything he does."

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