Lee County Board members honored for distinguished service

Resolutions recognize ‘profound appreciation’ for members’ dedication

Lee County Board members and visitors applaud the longtime service of several members who were honored during the November board meeting.

DIXON – The Lee County Board recently honored several members for their dedication and service to the county.

The board approved resolutions last week recognizing retiring members John Nicholson, Marvin Williams, Marilyn Shippert and Arlan McClain, as well as the late Bill Palen and Doug Farster.

Board Chairman Bob Olson said the six members have a combined 104 years of service, and “they brought a lot to the table.”

Nicholson served on the board for 20 years, including a term as chairman and several terms as vice chairman.

He also was chairman of the properties committee for more than 16 years and vice chairman of the administrative services, claims, executive, public safety and negotiations committees.

Nicholson wore many hats in the community, including a term as mayor of Franklin Grove and Village Board member, a member of the Franklin Grove Area Historical Society, Lee County Tourism Board and precinct committeeman.

He’s a founding member of the Franklin Creek Conservation Association responsible for building the Franklin Creek Grist Mill. He also was with Farming Heritage Inc., responsible for the restoration of the H.I. Lincoln Building, which was once the national headquarters of the Lincoln Highway Association.

“John served with distinction and will be remembered for being a strong advocate for regional tourism and economic development efforts, representing the board on various agencies including Blackhawk Hills Regional Council, the Lee County Industrial Development Association, the Lee-Ogle Enterprise Zone Board and the Lee County Tourism Board,” according to the resolution.

Williams served on the board for 22 years and was the county representative on the Tri-County Opportunities Council for 20 years.

“Marvin served with distinction, using his expansive social and professional network. He seemed to know people everywhere he went and never met a stranger, which exponentially increased his ability to sell more fundraising tickets for local charities and for the Republican Party than anyone else,” according to the resolution.

Williams, a U.S. Navy veteran, also was involved in the Dixon Noon Lions Club, the Lee County Farm Bureau and the Lee County Council on Aging.

Shippert first served on the newly formed Plan Commission in 1998, charged with developing the county’s first comprehensive land-use plan. She was elected to the County Board in 2004 and ended up serving 18 years in most capacities available, including vice chairwoman of the board and head of many committees.

“Marilyn served her community in numerous other leadership roles, including but not limited to supervisor of South Dixon Township, Lee County Farm Bureau, president of the Ronald Reagan Home Preservation Foundation, in addition to regularly volunteering at the Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home and as treasurer of Immanuel Lutheran Church,” according to the resolution.

McClain served a decade on the board, from 2012 to 2019 and then from 2020 to 2022. He also was recognized for the 37 years he was executive director of Kreider Services and his longtime advocacy for people with disabilities.

Farster’s service on the Lee County Board began in 1998 and continued up until his death Oct. 14, with the exception of 2009 to 2014, when he served as Dixon Township supervisor.

He also was Dixon Township clerk, Lee County Republican Central Committee chairman for more than a decade, chairman of the Lee County Council on Aging and a Dixon Elks member.

“Doug served with distinction and will be remembered for being a man of his word, a quiet ‘influencer’ who used his network of friends and colleagues to garner support for important initiatives,” according to the resolution.

Palen served on the board for 14 years until his death, also Oct. 14.

He was on the Ogle/Lee Crime Stoppers board, a Dixon Elks Lodge past exalted ruler and Dixon Noon Lions Club past president. He was a Melvin Jones Fellowship Award recipient.

“Bill served with distinction and will be remembered for the sense of humor he brought to even the most contentious discussions, for his always prompt and reliable attendance record, and for delightfully surprising staff with his computer abilities and desire to go digital with board functions,” according to the resolution.

Rachel Rodgers

Rachel Rodgers

Rachel Rodgers joined Sauk Valley Media in 2016 covering local government in Dixon and Lee County.