Westmont, Illinois -- Date Issued: November 11, 2021
On November 10, 2021, the Village of Westmont celebrated its 100th anniversary of incorporation. More than 500 people attended the various activities of the day, which were held in front of Westmont Village Hall, 31 W. Quincy Street.
“We’ve been working on a variety of events over the past five years,” said Mayor Ron Gunter, chair of the 100th Anniversary Committee. “Tonight’s event exceeded our expectations and I could not be happier with how everything turned out. We were able to invite the community to a public gathering in which we gave tribute to our history by honoring longtime businesses as well as legacy families who served in an elected capacity for a period of many decades. It was my honor to be part of this event that celebrated the town we all love.”
The evening began with Mayor Gunter recognizing the members of the 100th Anniversary Committee, who met regularly over the last five years to coordinate and host over 30 events. Some of the events over the last several years included:
Three projects that are still in progress and to be completed by the end of the year include a written history or CUSD201, several historical video interviews, and the Holly Days/100th Anniversary Parade scheduled for Saturday, December 4.
The members of the 100th Anniversary Committee are:
On behalf of the committee, Mayor Gunter has additionally thanked several individuals who participated in the various events over the past several years as well as those who were instrumental in assisting with the Anniversary Celebration on November 10 including Patti Mielcarski and Village Hall staff, Dustin Kleefisch and the Westmont Park District, Glen Liljeberg and the IT Department, Mike Ramsey and the Public Works Department, Chief Steve Riley and the Fire Department as well as the volunteers of EMA, Chief Jim Gunther and the Police Department, Frank Trout and the Westmont American Legion, the Westmont Historical Society, and all members of our village organization and the community who assisted with this celebration.
Over the past five years, Westmont artist Fanny Moy created and unveiled several large-scale canvas murals depicting different eras of Westmont’s history. The eras depicted were Pre-Incorporation (before 1921); the 20’s, 30’s & 40’s; the 50’s, 60’s & 70’s; and the 80’s to present. For the fifth and final installment, Moy created a mural to represent the future of Westmont. Ideas of Westmont’s future were collected from the community and Moy created a future Westmont that focused on innovative technologies that provide for a carbon-neutral community while still maintaining a small-town charm that retains its community connections with people. On behalf of the Village, Mayor Gunter thanked Moy for her exceptional art. The murals will be located at Village Hall for a period of time before returning to the Westmont Library for public display.
The 100th Anniversary Committee created the concept of the Westmont Legacy Awards to honor businesses and organizations as well as families who have prominently served Westmont.
The Legacy Business Awards criteria included being in business for 50 or more years in Westmont and the type of business existing continuously at the same location. Westmont Chamber Executive Director Larry Forssberg and Chamber President Alison Clemens made a presentation to announce and recognize these businesses. The list includes:
Westmont Pharmacy was presented the Legacy Business Award Plaque as Westmont’s oldest business, serving the community since 1930.
Following the Business Legacy Awards, Mayor Gunter presented the Legacy Awards to several Westmont families and one public agency organization. The criteria for these awards included multiple decades of community service and volunteerism, multiple family/group members being active and prominent in community service, and multiple decades of elected service.
The Legacy Award was presented to the Westmont Park District to honor four former volunteer Park Board Commissioners, each of whom served on the Park Board for 35 or more years:
Robert BernasJames LongDiane MainSandra Smith
Mayor Gunter also recognized six Westmont families with Legacy Awards. The criteria for these awards included decades of community service and volunteerism, multiple family members being active and prominent in community service, and multiple decades of elected service. Following are the families who were recognized for their significant and lasting contributions to the community:
Al & Marge Addington - Longtime volunteers for Lions Club and Pow Wow DaysCathy Addington - 75th Anniversary Committee Chair and Citizen of the YearJim Addington - Village Trustee & Mayor of Westmont, District Governor for Lions Club International, and Citizen of the Year
Bellerive Family - Joe Haupt’s Barbershop, first barbershop in Westmont, 1922 (Frank Bellerive’s grandfather)Phillip Bellerive - Village TrusteeFrank Bellerive - 40 years of elected service including Village Trustee, Park Board Commissioner, two-term Mayor of Westmont, and Westmont business owner
Joe Johanik - Mayor of Westmont and first Park Board PresidentFrank Johanik - Westmont’s longest-serving, professional Fire ChiefMarie Johanik-Guzzo - Village Trustee and Westmont Main Street founding member & President
Rahn Family - Westmont residents since the 1920’sMarion Vintrump, Hans, Jill & Bill Rahn - Charter members of the Westmont Historical SocietyJill Rahn - Westmont Zoning Board of Appeals and Economic Development CommitteeBill Rahn - Longest-serving Mayor consecutive years, Village Trustee, Chair of the original Cable Commission, and Citizen of the Year
William Robinson - Westmont’s longest-serving Mayor (5 non-consecutive terms) and County officialFred Mundinger - Superintendent of Maercker School District and author of Maercker District 60 HistoryJames Robinson - Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient
Steve & Anne Szymski - Prominent Westmont business and property ownersSteve Szymski - Founding member of original Chamber of Commerce, founding member of Bank of Westmont, and founding member of Police-Fire CommissionGreg Szymski - Youngest Village Trustee and MayorJinny Szymski - Award-winning and longest-serving Westmont Village ClerkGerry Szymski - Westmont Poet Laureate
After the Szymski family was recognized, Gerry Szymski read his poem “Ode to the first 100 years”, which he wrote specifically for Westmont’s 100th Anniversary. Following the poem, the Szymski family was asked to assist with the unveiling of the sign dedicating the plaza located to the north of Westmont Village Hall. As the family members unveiled the sign, they were surprised to learn that the park has been dedicated in their honor and has been named Szymski Plaza.
“The Szymski family legacy began in the 1950’s and continues to this day,” said Mayor Ron Gunter. “Their commitment to the community through multiple family members for over seven decades is extraordinary. It is fitting to honor the Szymski family at our 100th Anniversary Celebration.”
Mayor Gunter continued the evening’s presentations with the announcement of the 2121 100th Anniversary Time Capsule. More than 20 Westmont groups and organizations participated in this process by submitting well over 100 items to be included in the time capsule, which has now been buried and not intended to be reopened until the year 2121. Doing things by the book and obtaining official permission and permits to bury the time capsule, Village Building Commissioner Jason Vitell approved the permit with the caveat that it must remain buried until the Village’s 200th anniversary.
During the planning of the 100th anniversary, the topic of a community time capsule that had been buried in the downtown in 1976 during the Bicentennial was discussed. The intention was for the Bicentennial time capsule to be reopened in 2076, however, the structural integrity of the time capsule had been compromised over the years and it was learned that the container had been flooded. Unfortunately, when the capsule was opened, it was discovered that the great of the items had been destroyed. However, all items that were salvageable were cleaned off, dried, and then re-submitted into this new time capsule.
Mayor Gunter led the public in a ceremony in which residents and guests were able to scoop a shovel or gravel and help bury the time capsule. Following the time capsule ceremony, the audience was invited to sing Happy Birthday Westmont, which served as a countdown to a downtown fireworks display, which concluded the evening’s events.
“I want to thank everyone who helped out with this incredible event,” added Mayor Gunter. “It was my honor to be part of this historic event that celebrates the people of our community. I want to invite everyone to our final 100th anniversary event of the year, which will be the Holly Days and 100th Anniversary Parade in Downtown Westmont on Saturday, December 4th on Cass Avenue.”
Photos from the event have been posted in the Village of Westmont Photo Gallery. Additional photos and video from the event will be published in the near future.
Contact: Larry McIntyreVillage of WestmontCommunications Director/Public Information Officer630firstname.lastname@example.org