Oswego dedicates Arbor Day tree, bench in memory of long-time village official, staffer and firefighter

Family, community remembers former village board member, firefighter, public servant

Visitors to Oswego Village Hall have a new spot to rest and reflect in honor of one of the village’s dedicated public servants, the late Donald W. Race, Sr.

On Saturday, April 24, representatives from the village’s public works and police departments, the Oswego Fire Protection District, the Kendall County Sheriff’s Office, and Race’s family gathered at Village Hall to honor the former village trustee and volunteer firefighter with the installation of a commemorative bench and the Village’s annual Arbor Day tree.

“Trees perform this miracle to give us oxygen and purify the air, but they also are good for the soul. Trees give you an opportunity to rest, to reflect, to get some peace,” Village President Troy Parlier said. “And this remembrance is good for the soul as well. We really appreciate all the efforts that Don provided for the Village. Many times I talk about the fabric of our community, and he certainly is a piece of it.”

Race, who died at age 78 on Jan. 28, served as a trustee on the Oswego Village Board from 1979 to 1983. He worked for the village’s public works department from 1985 to 1988 and then as a code enforcement officer for the village from 1997 to 1999. He also served as a community service officer for the Oswego Police Department, as a dispatcher for Kendall County and as a volunteer with the Oswego Fire Department for more than 20 years.

The small gathering was attended by Race’s family as well as representatives from the Oswego Police Department, Oswego Fire Protection District, and Village staff. Race’s grandchildren helped plant the tree, an autumn brilliance serviceberry.

“Dad had a special place in his heart for the fire department and the police department,” said Race’s son, Bill Race. “This is amazing, thank you all very much.”

Every year, the Village of Oswego plants a tree and issues a proclamation in honor of Arbor Day, traditionally held on the last Friday in April in Illinois. The autumn brilliance serviceberry, donated by The Fields of Caton Farm, is the first of its variety that staff have planted in Oswego.

“We don’t know who’s going to enjoy this,” Parlier said of the bench and tree. “I can guarantee you I will be sitting here enjoying the tree and the bench. But it could be a mother taking a break from strolling her kids up and down the sidewalk. It could be a senior just taking a rest and reflecting on the day. This is a very important living piece of Oswego in memory of Donald.”

The tree and commemorative bench are located near the entrance of Oswego Village Hall, 100 Parkers Mill. The bench’s plaque is inscribed with the words, “In Memory of Donald W. Race. Servant, Peer and Leader.”