Walk in park results in memorial to parents, Norris golf course

Plaque honors Rex and Lori Morrison in Delnor Woods Park

  • Delnor Woods Park in St. Charles was once part of the Norris estate, on which there was a nine-hole golf course. A plaque near a tree marks the area in which golfers would aim for a short hole -- and honors Rex and Lori Morrison, who once golfed there.

    Delnor Woods Park in St. Charles was once part of the Norris estate, on which there was a nine-hole golf course. A plaque near a tree marks the area in which golfers would aim for a short hole -- and honors Rex and Lori Morrison, who once golfed there. Courtesy of Dave Heun

Posted7/22/2022 6:00 AM

Delnor Woods Park was the perfect place for Karen Morrison Comstock to take walks with her parents, Rex and Lori Morrison, who lived nearby.

It's a beautiful setting off Fifth Avenue (Route 25) just north of Main Street in St. Charles, but it was also where Rex Morrison had fond memories of playing golf.


Not to be mistaken with nearby Pottawatomie Golf Course, this was a nine-hole course on the estate of Lester and Dellora Norris, the city's most generous philanthropists.

The Morrison family has plenty of its own history to share with the city. Rex operated the popular Rex's Cork 'n Fork restaurant at 1311 E. Main St. in St. Charles for decades before closing not long after his passing in 2007. Fydoland pet training and grooming center eventually took over that location in 2014.

Karen Morrison Comstock had St. Charles in a state of euphoria in the summer of 1974 when, at age 19 and fresh out of St. Charles High School, she won the Miss USA beauty pageant to qualify for the Miss Universe pageant.

A plaque in Delnor Woods Park in St. Charles honors Rex and Lori Morrison. Rex operated the popular Rex's Cork 'n Fork restaurant in St. Charles for decades before it closed not long after his passing in 2007.
A plaque in Delnor Woods Park in St. Charles honors Rex and Lori Morrison. Rex operated the popular Rex's Cork 'n Fork restaurant in St. Charles for decades before it closed not long after his passing in 2007. - Courtesy of Dave Heun
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With that kind of family name recognition, I was more than curious when spotting a plaque near a small oak tree in Delnor Woods Park that stated, "In Honor of Rex and Lori Morrison Who Teed Off Here."

And that's where the Morrison stroll through Delnor Woods comes into play.

"My father hadn't been in that park yet, and we walked through it about the time it was built," Morrison Comstock said.

The St. Charles Park District acquired the 45 acres in March of 1998 from the Norris Estate and officially opened Delnor Woods Park in 2000. The golf holes on the Norris property probably saw their most play in the 1960s through the '70s.

"He went to a spot and said, 'I played golf here,'" Morrison Comstock said. "We came to that one area where the oak tree is, and he said this was one of the tee boxes, and you could see that it was a good place for a short golf hole."


After her father's passing, Morrison Comstock contacted the Norris Foundation and park district and asked if she could have a plaque put at that particular spot.

It turned out that Jim Collins, a grandson of Lester and Dellora Norris, helped Karen get the go-ahead for the small plaque.

"I asked if we could put this by one of the trees to kind of show people that there was a golf course there at one time, and Jim thought it was a great idea," Morrison Comstock said.

It has turned out to be a nice tribute to her parents and one that 92-year-old mother Lori, who is still doing well, has been able to see.

"A lot of people have memorials to loved ones out there, but we wanted it to be humorous and have a little fun with this," Morrison Comstock said. "My sister Linda and I did it, so we took the spot by the tree and wrote the note for the plaque."

Morrison Comstock would like to glue a golf tee to the plaque somehow, but it's been one of those ideas that she hasn't gotten around to.

"Maybe I could Super Glue one on," she said with a laugh. "I do have to do that."

Jim Collins' brother John said the course on the Norris property used to have nine holes. It was trimmed back to seven holes after Dellora built a guesthouse where the ninth hole had been on the property.

"That was my first experience in seeing that a woman could get things done as she wanted them on her own," John said about his grandmother's ambitions and energy.

He also remembered Enair Danielsen, the estate groundskeeper, who also cared for the golf course for more than 30 years.

"People would try to jump over the fence to play a few holes, but Enair would chase them off," he said. It's an interesting piece of St. Charles history, considering how many things the Norris family built or supported in the city and how the Collins family carried on that tradition.

For those new to the area, you really should be aware that the Norris family has left quite a legacy, with the Norris Cultural Arts Center and John Baker Norris Recreation Center on the campus of St. Charles East High School standing out as major contributions. The list of donations is long, including the land and dollars for the Two Rivers Council Boy Scouts headquarters along Route 31.

And Morrison Comstock is glad her father mentioned the golf tee box during their walk through Delnor Woods. Park visitors who spot the plaque would have no idea otherwise that several men and women once played golf there.

"I'm not sure who Dad played golf with there," she noted while coming up with a perfectly reasonable reason why.

"I know the Collins family was there, but I was too busy being a teenager back then to pay attention to who he was playing golf with."

For the kids

A few readers have asked what is being built north of the Aldi grocery store on the west side of St. Charles.

That building under construction will soon be a Kiddie Academy daycare facility, according to Russell Colby, director of community development in St. Charles.

And those familiar with that region will notice that a bit farther west, at Main Street (Route 64) and Cardinal Drive, the Tractor Supply Company building continues to take shape.

That's a big screen

With the Batavia City Council recently giving its blessing to Michigan-based Emagine Entertainment for the height variances needed for a Super Emax auditorium, the former Randall 15 movie site will be laying claim to what it says is the largest theater screen in Illinois.

To accommodate that large screen, the movie complex will trim the number of screens from 15 to 12.

Above and beyond a massive screen, the most recent photos of a few duckpin (larger, shorter pins) bowling lanes and other activities Emagine has in mind for the Batavia movie complex are sparking a lot of interest.

We might be several months away from this place opening, but it appears it will be well worth that wait.

A crayfish hunt

If you were to ask our son, who now has his own family, what his fondest childhood memories in the Tri-Cities were, one would have to be hunting for crayfish in the creek at LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve.

He would spend hours there with his friends.

Thus, it is no surprise the Kane County Forest Preserve is touting its pitch to help find and clear out the invasive Rusty Crayfish in local streams as a free, family-oriented event from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 6.

Those interested in helping remove the crayfish from streams and the river can join forest preserve workers at Glenwood Park Forest Preserve at 1644 S. River St. in Batavia or Primrose Farm at 5N726 Crane Road in St. Charles.

Be sure to wear closed-toe shoes and clothes you don't mind getting muddy. Touted as the "Rusty Rodeo," the forest preserve notes the crayfish collected will be used as food for various captive animals maintained at sponsoring agencies' nature centers.

No registration is necessary for this event. More information is available at (630) 444-3190 or via email at programs@kaneforest.com.

Make way for rails

This project will make Geneva a little tricky to get around next year, so be prepared.

City officials have sent out the notice that starting in 2023 and going through most of 2024, the Union Pacific Railroad will work on its third rail line.

That means the crossings at Western Avenue and Third Street in Geneva might be closed for periods of time. Also, the traffic under the railroad bridge on Route 31 could be cut off periodically. But they won't all be shut down simultaneously, so you'll have to be aware of what's going on to maneuver around town and keep an eye on sign postings.

The overflow Metra parking lot off Route 31 is already closed and won't be in operation for the entire two-year time period because that's where UP construction equipment is going to be stored.

The city will update the project information on its website as UP makes its overall plans and time frame available.


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