He was beloved by both parties and he got things done. Ted Lambert oversaw moving the sheriff’s office and jail from the downtown Ottawa courthouse to Etna Road.
Lambert, a Tonica Republican who served 35 years on the La Salle County Board, including several as board chairman, died Sunday. He was 98.
“He was somewhat legendary and quite a character.”— Judge Joseph P. Hettel, whose father succeeded Ted Lambert as La Salle County chairman
Though long removed from government service – he had retired as La Salle County Recorder of Deeds – Lambert was warmly remembered by active and recently-retired county officials.
“He was somewhat legendary and quite a character,” said Justice Joseph P. Hettel, whose father, also Joe, was board chairman after Lambert. “He had an engaging personality.”
And while Lambert and the elder Joe Hettel were on opposite sides of the aisle, the judge remembered no partisan bickering, only mutual respect. “They all got along back then,” he said.
Gary Peterlin, a former La Salle County state’s attorney, said Lambert was “a strong county chairman” who knew how to count noses and build a consensus.
“He loved government, politics and people,” Peterlin said. “He had so much recollection of county history and could call upon it as he felt necessary during his leadership.”
Bob Vickrey, former chairman of the La Salle County Republican Central Committee, said Lambert not only had an engaging personality but also a knack for quickly recalling those in his social circle.
“I was walking through the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota in 1994 and heard my name called out,” Vickrey said. “It was Ted.
“Ted had the intangible political skills needed to be chairman of the La Salle county board. Wherever you met Ted he was your instant friend.”
An Army veteran of World War II, Lambert farmed and owned laundromats in several cities. Transitioning into government came naturally, as both his parents had served as La Salle County sheriff. His father, Edward Sr., served from 1954 until his death in 1956, when his widow, Frances, began and completed his unexpired term.
Mindful of his parents’ contribution to law enforcement, Ted Lambert Jr. always had a moment for their successors and the deputies.
“Ted always had a spot in his heart for the sheriff’s office and he always had time for a conversation and to joke about things,” said Tom Templeton, who would later follow Ted Sr. and Frances into the sheriff’s office.
Though Lambert had a diverse run on the County Board, those interviewed recalled Lambert had been a key figure in the move of county offices to Etna Road and in the establishment of the La Salle County Detention Home.
“Ted was very easy to work with as far as trying to find a consensus,” said retired Chief Judge James A. Lanuti, who had served as the county’s civil attorney while Lambert was on the board. “He was involved in a lot of big decisions. He lived a long life and I’m happy to see that.”
Services for Ted Lambert will be June 3 at Sacred Heart Church in Granville, where Lambert had been a member. Hurst Funeral Home in Tonica is in charge of arrangements.