On what was supposed to be the last Oak Lawn Village Board meeting that he had to suffer gladly, Trustee Jerry Hurckes sat with a smile on his face Tuesday evening.
“It’s 10:05 and I haven’t had dinner,” Hurckes said. “I won’t miss these wonderful, long evenings.”
Fellow village board members and residents praised Hurckes as a dogged public servant who raked leaves for senior citizens, treated residents like family and always had time to take a constituent’s phone call, even if it interrupted dinner. It was a model of service that Hurckes learned well from the first Congressman Lipinski—Bill—who ran one of the best constituent service offices in the country.
Trustee Alex Olejniczak (Dist. 2) called Hurckes’ impact on Dist. 1 huge.
“Even though we didn’t always agree, the thing I admired most about you is your dedication to your residents and your community,” Olejniczak said. “That’s something you should be very proud of.”
Trustee Tom Duhig (Dist. 4) told Hurckes to “never forget us in Oak Lawn” and to carry a message back to the congressman.
“Jobs, jobs, jobs and taxes, taxes, taxes,” Duhig said.
Ridgeland Dist. 122 school board member Jean Werner and a neighbor honored Hurckes with a poem entitled, “Because You Cared.”
“Because you cared, you attended all school functions and went to everything, including DARE, school plays and school graduations,” the women read to a visibly moved Hurckes.
Trustee Carol Quinlan said it was easy to see why Hurckes’ constituents loved him.
“This isn’t an easy job and you’ve done it with grace,” she said.
“There is so much more to be said. You worked hard,” Heilmann said. “There is a reason you kicked my butt there every time there was an election. You were out there in contact with people giving them what they wanted.”
Choking up, Heilmann thanked Hurckes for his “kind words about my family,” referring to his wife’s battle with cancer. “You’re a great family guy.”
In his farewell address, Hurckes said leaving the village board wasn’t an easy decision.
“It was a job I loved and took great pride in,” Hurckes said. “I loved fighting for the residents of Oak Lawn.”