In memoriam: Remembering notable Lake County residents we lost in 2021
Trailblazing politicians. Dedicated community servants. Business leaders whose philanthropic work enriched their communities. And a priest whose leadership forever changed his flock.
These are among the influential and important Lake County area residents we said farewell to this year.
As we move ahead to the promise of a new year, let's first take a look back at some of the important and influential people we lost in 2021.
A police officer and psychologist who worked for the Waukegan Police Department and the Lake County sheriff's office, Hunter was remembered by colleagues as an experienced, passionate leader who loved serving the public. Hunter, 62, died Jan. 2, at a Scottsdale, Arizona, retirement home.
B. Dwight Houchins
Friendly and personable, Houchins never shook his Texas roots while drumming up business in Lake County. The former president and CEO of the Green Oaks, Libertyville, Mundelein, Vernon Hills Chamber of Commerce died Jan. 5 in Mundelein. He was 76.
Buffalo Grove High School's first head football coach, and leader of the program's only state championship in 1986, died Jan. 12 at 86. The high school's football field is named in his honor.
Known for his love for the construction industry and his many civic contributions, the Barrington resident led The Pepper Companies, a company formed in 1927 by his father, Stanley Pepper. He and his wife, Roxelyn, were major financial backers of the Barrington Historical Society, were honored in 2017 for supporting Maryville's Center for Children, and were recognized in 2006 by the Illinois Humanities Council with a Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award. He died Jan. 28 at 90 years old.
A Round Lake village trustee, Newby, 63, died March 16 after numerous health complications related to diabetes. A trustee for 24 years, Newby was a lifelong Round Lake resident and previously served as a volunteer firefighter/EMT with the Greater Round Lake Fire Protection District and on the Round Lake Area Unit District 116 school board.
The former Buffalo Grove trustee is remembered for her legacy of community service and devotion to family. She especially was devoted to the Buffalo Grove Days festival and received the Bill Reid Community Service Award for her work on that and other volunteer projects. Glover died March 29 at her home in Gardner, Kansas. She was 77.
A. Rex Johnson
The founding president and CEO of Baxter Credit Union was known as a charismatic leader who inspired BCU employees to live the "people helping people" purpose of the Vernon Hills-based credit union. Johnson died April 2. He was 77.
James "Jim" Strang
The Gurnee resident gave a lifetime of service to the community. He had a 32-year career in Warren Township High School District 121, teaching biology, health, science and physical education, coaching football and wrestling, and serving as the athletic director, principal and director of Administrative Services and State Mandates. He died May 4 at 86 years old.
A trailblazing politician whose legal background, moderate voice and ability to reach across the aisle helped her become the first female lieutenant governor in Illinois. Wood, who grew up in Barrington and served as lieutenant governor alongside Gov. George Ryan from 1999 to 2003, died May 14 from complications related to her 15 years with metastatic breast cancer. She was 66.
A Buffalo Grove resident who as a teen was imprisoned in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp complex, Fritzshall later became a voice for fellow survivors -- and victims -- of the Holocaust. She served as president of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie and was a prominent speaker on the Holocaust. She died June 19. She was 91.
Douglas A. Rockenbach
A World War II veteran, the Grayslake resident went on to run a prominent suburban auto dealership that bore his family's name. He signed Chicago Bull Michael Jordan to his first contract as spokesperson for Chevy dealers and was in studio during the basketball star's first commercial shoot. He was active in community organizations, including the Lake County Easter Seals Society and Grayslake American Legion Post 659. Rockenbach died Aug. 4 at 96 years old.
During a political career that spanned three decades, Rodriguez served as Long Grove's village clerk, as a village trustee and ultimately as its village president. She also ran for the Republican nomination for the 8th Congressional District in 2010 and for lieutenant governor in 2014. She died Oct. 19. She was 62.
The Rev. John "Jack" Dewes
While he served at five suburban Catholic parishes over the course of his 56 years as a priest, it is at St. Anne Catholic Church in Barrington where his legacy lies. Dewes led the 3,500-family parish for two decades, including during a nearly 10-year, $15 million campus development plan. He passed away Nov. 13 at 82 years old.
A patrolman at heart, Herdegen served as police chief in both Libertyville and Hoffman Estates, where he spent most of his law enforcement career. Know as a "servant leader" with a calm demeanor, he focused on training the next generation of officers. Herdegen died Nov. 22. He was 61 years old.
Described as a humble man of integrity, Carey served as chief of the Libertyville Police Department from 1996 to 2010. He retired to Florida, but his sense of service and community brought him back to Libertyville in 2016, when he was asked to fill a vacant seat on the village board. He would go on to serve five years as a village trustee. Carey died Nov. 26 at the age of 72.