At age 16, Russ Loebe started working for the Village of New Lenox in the public works department, and eventually worked his way up to being the village administrator, a position he'd hold for 26 years.
Loebe retired earlier this year, and at Monday's Village Board meeting was honored for his service, totaling 40 years. Village trustees and staff past and present gave tearful goodbyes and shared memories recognizing the work Loebe did for the village.
He's being replaced by Shorewood Village Administrator Kurt Carroll, .
Here's some of what the village trustees and others in attendance had to say:
Mayor Tim Baldermann: "He epitomizes everything that is good in New Lenox ... Russ Loebe has not been our employee, he's been our partner. Thank you for everything you've done."
Trustee David Smith: "You've been a mentor, you've been an instructor, you've been an adviser, a confidant. Most of all, you've been my friend."
Trustee Keith Madsen: "You are truly a pillar of this community."
Trustee Annette Bowden: "He's someone who's always there for you. I'm very sad he's leaving."
Trustee Ray Tuminello: "There's 25,000-plus people who will continue to read the book you've written. ... I'll miss not being able to bug you anymore, but I'll still call."
Trustee Nancy Dye: "I was most awed when we went to the Illinois Municipal League and everyone in the state knew who you were."
Perhaps the most touching testament to Loebe came from his 19-year-old son, Jamie, who said his father was there for him any time he needed, including through four surgeries.
"For 19 years, as amazing a worker he's been, he's been an even better dad," Jamie said.
Other village staff members thanked Loebe during their regular reports, which regularly concluded with the village administrator. Although he's no longer the administrator, Loebe gave one last report: "Nothing further, mayor."