Carol Wandschneider dedicated her life to preserving and sharing Downers Grove history, so much of which also was her own history. Now, to honor Wandschneider’s life, the Downers Grove Museum and Downers Grove Park District will host a Celebration of Life.
Wandschneider, who volunteered with a number of Downers Grove organizations, died Feb. 5, 2020, at age 75. The Celebration of Life will be from 4 to 6 p.m. July 24 at Wandschneider Park on the museum campus, 831 Maple Ave.
Wandschneider grew up in Downers Grove with her sister, Polly Buchanan, and her mother, Pauline Wandschneider, who founded the Downers Grove Historical Society and was the Downers Grove Museum’s first curator.
“Carol was the ultimate community volunteer, and you can tell by her involvement,” Buchanan said. “She had a passion for history, and I think she got that gene from our mother. She just wanted history to be easily accessible to everyone.”
Among Wandschneider’s projects at the museum were two time-consuming ventures of digitizing information from phone books and gathering information regarding archival photographs donated from the Downers Grove Reporter.
Wandschneider also was involved with the Daughters of the American Revolution, Sigma Kappa Sorority, the Downers Grove Historical Society, the Oak Hill/Oak Crest Cemetery Foundation, The Huguenot Society of Illinois and a number of other groups.
Wandschneider was named Du Page County Historian of the Year in 2015 and Volunteer of the Year for the Downers Grove Museum that same year.
Felicia Camacho, recreation supervisor for the Downers Grove Park District, said Downers Grove history is a legacy in Wandschneider’s family. Camacho said the Celebration of Life event will include a welcome, a toast to Wandschneider, a number of speakers and the reading of a closing poem.
“She was that voice for our community – that consistency,” Camacho said. “During times of turnover, [Carol] was the ‘memory’ for us, and she was just such a great asset to our community.”
Liz Chalberg, president of the Downers Grove Historical Society, will be one of the speakers at the Celebration of Life and said she is grateful that Wandschneider was so generous with her knowledge. Chalberg said Wandschneider was integral to the success of the Downers Grove Historical Society because she had such a broad sense of the overall history of the community.
Chalberg said since Wandschneider’s passing, she has been thinking about the qualities Wandschneider possessed that really made her who she was. Wandschneider was timeless, a dedicated leader, perseverant, dependable and amazingly brave, Chalberg said.
“Carol embodied the love of Downers Grove, and she carried that with her wherever she went,” Chalberg said. “She was dedicated to the community in a way you don’t see, and she wanted others to know Downers Grove and love it as she did.”