County altruist dies at 91; Raymond's legacy lives on in county forest preserves
Article from:The Sun - Naperville (IL) Article date:November 23, 2004Author:More results for:mae raymond naperville
Full obituary, Page 8 *** Robert Raymond's legacy extends well beyond the road that bears his name or the many years he served on the DuPage County Board. His legacy is in the trees and fields of the many forest preserves he helped the county acquire. Without him, yesterday's open spaces would have become today's subdivisions and shopping centers. It's also in the Naperville homes purchased with credit he offered to families during the 1940s and '50s. And in the Naperville United Way chapter he helped establish in 1951.
"He was a respected man," said DuPage County Board Chairman Robert Schillerstrom, R-Naperville, who served alongside Raymond in the county's 5th District for one term.
Raymond, who died Saturday at 91, was a longtime friend of Schillerstrom and his family.
Raymond was a fighter, said Naperville Mayor George Pradel, who saw him in the hospital Thursday. He was still fighting that day and Pradel had hoped Raymond would soon attend Naperville Noon Rotary Club meetings.
Raymond was born and grew up in Chicago before arriving in Naperville in 1941. He once owned and operated the Raymond Lumber Co. along the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway tracks near downtown Naperville.
Pradel said Raymond helped many people get their starts in the city by extending credit to help build homes. He said Raymond was a friendly businessman who treated everyone with utmost respect.
"He did so much," said Peg Price, a former Naperville mayor. "Bob was the driving force behind a lot of things that benefited Naperville. He was aware of the needs of the community and worked hard to see that they were met."
Raymond first won a seat on the County Board and county Forest Preserve District Commission in 1960 and served for 20 years until he was defeated in the 1980 primary election. He ran again in 1982 and reclaimed his seat. He retired from the board in December 1988 after being defeated for a second time during the March primary.
During his tenure, land acquisition was his main objective because he noticed the county's landscape transitioning from rural to suburban, Schillerstrom said. Land preservation was key to preserving the county's quality of life, he added.
According to The Sun's archives, Raymond was instrumental in the district's purchase of Greene Valley Forest Preserve in east Naperville, Danada Forest Preserve in Wheaton, Kline Creek Farm in Winfield and Springbrook Prairie in Naperville. Other forest preserves that benefited from Raymond's tenure include Blackwell in Warrenville, Herrick Lake in Wheaton and Hidden Lake in Glen Ellyn.
DuPage County Forest Preserve District President Dewey Pierotti said Raymond was an avid outdoorsman and equestrian who championed extending trails for hikers and horses alike. He left quite a legacy for the taxpayers, he said.
In 1997, the county renamed the portion of River Road between Ogden Avenue and Ferry Road as Raymond Drive in his honor.
Chet Rybicki, another former Naperville mayor, said Raymond was an active member in the Naperville Noon Rotary.
"He always sat right next to me," Rybicki said. "He attended all the meetings and loved them."
When it became difficult for Raymond to get around, he used a walker and went to the meetings, he said.
"It was hard on him, but he still trudged to the Rotary," Rybicki said.
At Rotary meetings, he was known for drawing a comparison between the fines from when he first joined -- a dime or quarter -- to the current ones, which are in the dollars.
"He was a great guy, and I'm sure going to miss him," Rybicki said.
Raymond is survived by his wife of 66 years, Mae; five children; six grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Friedrich-Jones Funeral Home, at 44 S. Mill St. in Naperville.
A Mass of Christian burial will be held at noon Wednesday at SS Peter and Paul Church, at 36 N. Ellsworth St. in Naperville.
 Staff writer Kathy Cichon contributed to this report.