Former Hampshire village president Bob Kudlicki dead at 83
By Dave Gathman email@example.com October 2, 2012 8:18PM
Hampshire Village Trustee George Brust (left) and District Forest Preserve Commissioner Bob Kudlicki (right) present Library Director Carol Schrey (center) with copies of a Coon Creek Video and the 2008 - 2012 Kane County Forest Preserve District Master Plan on September 12, 2008 at the Ella Johnson Public Library in Hampshire. 09/12/08 Sun-Times Media~File Photo
Updated: November 4, 2012 6:19AM
HAMPSHIRE — Robert Kudlicki was remembered by friends and family Tuesday as a hands-on village president, a Kane County board member dedicated to getting new forest preserves and a golf course for the Hampshire area, and a businessman who worked quietly in the background but made sure things got done.
Nine days before his 84th birthday, he died in his Hampshire home Monday morning after what his son, Bob Kudlicki Jr. of St. Charles, described only as a brief illness.
A visitation will be held from 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday in St. Charles Boromeo Church in Hampshire. Funeral Mass will begin at 11 a.m. Monday in the church, followed by burial in the church cemetery.
Kudlicki served as Hampshire village president from 1976 to 1984 and as the Kane County Board member representing the Hampshire-Gilberts area from 2002 to 2010. He left politics when he was defeated in the 2010 Republican primary by T.R. Smith, who shared membership with him in Hampshire’s American Legion post.
“He was a hands-on manager” during his days as village president, Kudlicki Jr. said. “If the snow was deep, he wouldn’t be driving a plow, but he would be riding in the cab along with the driver to make sure it got done right.”
In fact, Kudlicki Jr. said, the president would put him and his teenage brother, Michael Kudlicki, to work running smaller pieces of snow-clearing equipment. “We got to operate things we had no legal classification to operate. But our dad was the mayor, so who was going to complain?” Bob Jr. said with a smile.
As a county board member, his son said, Kudlicki served on the executive committee of the forest preserve district and played an active role in acquiring land for new forest preserves in the Hampshire area. “He’d go out and talk to people and ask if they would be interested in selling their land,” his son recalled.
Fellow county board and forest preserve board member Michael Kenyon of South Elgin said that “one dream Bob Kudlicki never realized was that he wanted to see a golf course in the Hampshire area. If you asked him (as he was dying) what his biggest regrets were, I think he would have said that, and the fact that he no longer will be able to take care of his wife, Theresa. He had been the caretaker for her the last several years.”
“He was an easy-going guy, very cooperative. If you needed something done, he would do it,” said Lowell “Whitey” Reiser, who was a leader of the Hampshire VFW Post over the years that Kudlicki served as an officer of the American Legion post. “Memorial Day was a big thing for Bob. He would be up early to make sure the flag was up.”
Bob Jr. said his father was born in Muskegon, Mich., but grew up in Chicago, where he attended Lane Technical High School and learned how to be a printer. Joining the Marines right after World War II, he served two years, was discharged, then was reactivated when the Korean War broke out in 1950.
“He was given top-secret clearance and put to work in Washington, D.C., on cryptography and maps,” Bob Jr. said. “The unit he had been in was sent to Korea and most of them got killed. If not for his new assignment, I probably wouldn’t be sitting here today.”
Working as a printer, Kudlicki was employed by R.R. Donnelley & Co., then for the now-defunct Hampshire Register newspaper.
In 1959, he bought a dry-cleaning franchise from Illinois Cleaners, which later changed its name to Marberry Cleaners. Until the day he died, he continued to run a cleaning store on State Street in Hampshire while picking up and dropping off cleaning in the Hampshire-Burlington-St. Charles area, and getting the cleaning actually processed at Marberry’s headquarters in St. Charles.
In 1969, he also bought a men’s clothing store in downtown Hampshire called The Village Toggery, which Bob Jr. describes as “sort of a small version of the Chuck Hines store in downtown Elgin.”
“In those days, Hampshire had one pharmacy, one grocery store, one hardware store, and we were the clothing store,” his son said. He said his mother, Theresa, staffed the menswear and cleaning store in the daytime while Bob Sr. drove his delivery and pickup route. “On Fridays, when the factory workers got paid, they stayed open until 9, and you couldn’t find a parking space on State Street.”
Over the years, though, The Village Toggery shrank into nothing, and even most of the cleaning store’s space was leased out to become the Hampshire Area Chamber of Commerce office.
Bob Jr. said his brother, Michael, will run the cleaning franchise until the family decides what to do with the business.