Alderman Frank Williams shares a laugh with the council while saying his farewells.
(Photo by Michael Gilbert)
Palos Hills Alderman Mary Ann Schultz proclaimed "I'm not going to cry."
That was a promise she couldn't keep.
Palos Hills officials said their goodbyes to Alderman Frank Williams during the April 16 meeting. He is a man they praised for his hard work, knowledge, dedication and even his unrivaled fashion during his 16 years on the council.
But it was their long-standing friendship with the always-dapper Williams that caused the meeting to take a rather emotional turn.
A few city officials got a bit misty-eyed as they bid farewell to the 5th Ward alderman, who was defeated by challenger Dawn Nowak 207-197 in the April 7 consolidated election. Williams’ counterpart, Schultz, prefaced her comments by saying “I’m not going to cry,” but was then unable to hold back the tears.
“It’s been 14 years [we have served together as the 5th Ward aldermen] and you’ve taught me so much,” Schultz said. “I will miss you and thank you for being my partner.”
Williams had been the fourth longest-tenured member of the council behind Pauline Stratton (2nd Ward), Marty Kleefisch (1st Ward) and A.J. Pasek (3rd Ward). Originally appointed by Mayor Gerald Bennett in 1999 to fill the vacancy caused when the now late John Jones had to resign due to health reasons, Williams was seeking re-election to his fourth term earlier this month.
“I had a good run while it lasted,” Williams told his colleagues. “I enjoyed working with all of you.”
Williams, a retired foreman for the Illinois Department of Transportation, said he was most proud of the growth of the public works department while under his watch. Williams was the chairman of the Public Works, Sewer & Water Committee and was a member of the Economic Development Committee.
“I think we have one of the most efficient and courteous public works departments in the south suburbs,” Williams said. “They provide a great service to our residents.”
Bennett called Williams an “asset” to Palos Hills and said he appreciated “all the time and effort” he put into his job.
“Frank, I want to thank you for all your years of service to the city of Palos Hills,” Bennett said. “I can’t say enough about your dedication to your work here as an alderman and as the chairman of public works. You’ve taken on a leadership role in the activities and events that have taken place through public works. Thanks again on behalf of the city council and myself.”
Alderman Joe Marrotta (4th Ward) called Williams “a mentor” and thanked him for the guidance when he joined the board in 2007 at the age of 28.
“You were one of the guys that took me under your wing when I first started [on the board eight years ago],” Marrotta said. “I appreciate everything you’ve done for me. I won’t be a stranger.”
Pasek made a motion – which was later unanimously approved – for the council to retire Williams’ aldermanic badge. Stratton also suggested he take his name plate, which he did at the conclusion of the meeting.
“Frank and I didn’t always agree but then again I don’t always agree with most people, but we did agree more than enough times,” Pasek said. “I’ve known Frank for more than the 16 years he’s been on this board and he is a good man. He’s very down to earth. He’s been an asset to the city.”
Kleefisch said that although he and Williams “took different approaches on some issues” he never doubted his dedication to serving the residents.
“I never questioned your sincerity with regards to providing for the residents that are represented in the 5th Ward and I never questioned your concern for the well-being of our city,” Kleefisch said. “I respect the service you’ve provided. It has been a pleasure and honor to serve with you.”
Williams credited friend and former 4th Ward Alderman Joel Thomas for convincing him to apply for the vacant seat on the council back in 1999.
“He encouraged me to apply so I decided to give it a try,” Williams said. “After meeting with the mayor I ended up getting the appointment.
“I’ve enjoyed working for the residents.”
Bennett closed out the meeting by offering one final compliment, which drew laughs from the council and the handful of residents in attendance.
“I going to miss your colorful outfits you wore all the time,” Bennett said, paying homage to the bright and vibrant colored shirts Williams routinely wore to the meetings.