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Park Foundation Creates Wendell Jones Scholarship

Recommendation brought by park district executive director Ron Gbur to highlight the former state senator, councilman, mayor and educator’s contributions to Palatine community.

The Palatine Park District foundation will create a scholarship in the memory of former State Sen. Wendell Jones.

Jones. He worked for 24 years as a special needs educator. He served as a Palatine council member and was mayor from 1973-1977. He was state senator for nearly a decade, retiring in 2007.

Palatine Park District Executive Director Ron Gbur recommended to the foundations board that Jones be honored in some way. The park foundation board voted unanimously to create a Wendell Jones Memorial Scholarship fund, which will be directed to Palatine special needs residents in the area of recreation, said Carl Arthur, park foundation board president.

“Wendell always was involved with special needs individuals and took great care in making sure they had recreational opportunities in Palatine,” Arthur said.

The initial idea to honor Jones came in part, from his longtime friend and political ally, Palatine resident Richard Maxwell.

Maxwell asked the park district board of commissioners at their Nov. 22 meeting to rename Town Square after Wendell, Gbur said.

“Our policy has always been to name our parks after birds or trees,” Gbur said. “The idea to honor Wendell has been in the thoughts of all of our commissioners as well.” 

There have been two exceptions to the park-naming policy, which include Doug Lindberg Park and Wally Degner Park.

Doug Lindberg Park, 600 N. Winston Drive, was renamed in 1972 when the 16-year-old died trying to save two children in a small pond on the park property, Gbur said. 

In 2005, Wally Degner Park, 881 W. Palatine Road, was dedicated in name to the longest serving commissioner on the Palatine Park District board at that time.  

“Though the board of commissioners decided not to rename Town Square, we want to keep Wendell’s name alive in the village – it was definitely in all of our thoughts,” Gbur said.

Gbur said Jones always was concerned about children having the opportunity to participate in activities in the community, and always had a ‘happy-go-lucky, positive attitude.

Jones filled the 27th Illinois Senate District seat, left vacant by former U.S. Sen. Peter Fitzgerald.

Jones worked for Community Consolidated School District 15 for 24 years, starting out as a speech therapist and moving up to director of special education.

“Wendell always made sure those with disabilities were treated fairly and had equal opportunities for recreation and activities in the village,” Gbur said.

Jones also served from 2002-2006 on the Parks Foundation board, and played an integral part in raising more than $600,000 to cover landscaping, walkways and the gazebo in Town Square, Arthur said.

“We have had the idea to honor Wendell ever since he passed away; though he was a state senator at the time he served on the park foundation board, he fulfilled his responsibilities by rushing back from Springfield to make our meetings,” Arthur said.

“Because of his experience with special needs children, we all see it as very fitting that we establish this type of scholarship in his name, because he is the one who spurred creation of these types of programs in Palatine,” Arthur said.  

The scholarship is in the early phases of working out its details. For more information, contact Carl Arthur at carl.arthur@att.net.

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