As mayor of Oglesby, he oversaw a residential boom, cut electric rates and lured in jobs. Oglesby’s tax base grew $5 million in a single year under Jerry Scott’s administration.
Gerald F. “Jerry” Scott died Friday in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was 87. The longtime mayor of Oglesby was remembered as a kindly, approachable man but also as a dynamic politician who steered some of the city’s greatest commercial and residential growth.
He served for 20 years with a vision to improve the city.”— Don Finley, former Oglesby mayor
“He was dedicated to the city of Oglesby,” former Mayor Don Finley said. “He served for 20 years with a vision to improve the city.”
Ahead of his final election bid in 2007, Scott sported a long list of accomplishments including the opening of a medical clinic; a boom in residential growth, including the Heritage Fields subdivision; and construction of Wire Mesh Co.
“In addition to that, Jerry was always active in the community,” said Gary Peterlin, a former city attorney, although not under Scott. “He loved Oglesby and he really immersed himself in our community.”
Scott had worked in cement industry while he and his wife Patricia raised a large family. He was active in the Oglesby Elks Lodge and had served as deputy La Salle County coroner, first under Marion Osborne and briefly under Jody Bernard, who remembered him warmly.
“He was a compassionate man who was very good with grieving families, and he worked well with the different law enforcement agencies throughout the county,” Bernard said. “He was a sincerely nice man who will be missed by all who knew him. He was a true gentleman.”
“While I may have disagreed with Jerry on many issues,” Oglesby attorney John Fisher said. “I’m deeply saddened and agree that everything he did as mayor was for the betterment of Oglesby. He loved Oglesby.”
Despite his accomplishments, Scott sometimes drew the ire of Oglesby voters. His first three terms were halted in 1995 when he lost to challenger George Cullinan, only to be reinstalled four years later.
“I think the voters needed a change in Oglesby,” Scott said after his 1999 victory, “and my main agenda is going to be to bring pride and dignity and financial stability back to Oglesby.”
Following that return, Scott moved City Hall into the former Citizens First National Bank and oversaw the construction of the fire and ambulance building on the south side of town.
“He was a very active mayor,” Fire Chief Ron Popurella said. “He was always fair and supported the fire department when we needed help.”
His run as mayor ended with a failed reelection bid in 2007. He initially declined to seek reelection but changed his mind. The late start proved a hindrance, as did turmoil within the police department and the city’s lack of a supermarket.
In his last full council meeting, Scott issued his thanks for “a great 20 years.”
“We were successful on a number of items,” Scott said. “It was fun – most of the time it was fun.”