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Dick Jaeger, 1925-2012: Geneva Loses Two Legends on Same Day

Geneva mourns the loss of two of its most beloved and well-known historians—Dick Jaeger and Merritt King—on Tuesday, Jan. 24.

, the beloved Geneva History Center volunteer and patron, died on the same day as his compatriot, Merritt King.

Dick had been battling for several weeks—we knew because of the prayer requests at church—but it's sad, and hard to believe Geneva could lose two of its great historians on the same day.

Dick died around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 24. Seven-term alderman and Geneva's historian emeritus died that morning, at around 6 a.m.

"It's just another sadness and loss for the History Center and for Geneva," said HPC Executive Director Terry Emma. "We're in total dismay. It just doesn't seem to connect."

Dick was the man who created the three-dimensional miniature models of historic buildings in Geneva. For Geneva's 175th Anniversary celebration, he created a new, three-dimensional model of the 1856 courthouse. Some say his best work is his model of the old Lutheran Church that was on the parking lot next to the Geneva Theater.

He was a volunteer at the History Center and often worked the front desk—as recently as November, Emma said. An Internet search indicates he formerly worked at the Elmhurst-Chicago Stone Corp.

Dick narrates the StoryCorps video about the Depression years in Geneva, which is attached to this article. You can also view it by clicking here.

The story he tells about his mom and his family tells a little bit about the narrator himself.

"When we were living in the Wells House on Fourth Street, we had a little mudroom right off the kitchen. Mother had a small table she set out there. And in the drawer were the place setings and the silverwear. Our house apparently was marekd, because the hobos coming off the NorthWestern would come there every night, and she would feed them—whoever came to the door—every night. ... And she would send them off with a sack lunch after feeding them.

"Our good fortune as a family is due to the charity our mother always showed in her lifetime," he said.

No funeral arrangements have been posted as yet on the Internet, but we'll keep you posted as soon as we know more.

MattG January 26, 2012 at 04:11 AM
Mr. Jaeger was a very good man. RIP
Fred Cregier January 26, 2012 at 01:54 PM
Dick and I were altarboys, many years ago, at the old St. Peter's Church. He and his amazing family were all people I looked up to and felt were terrific role models. For him and Merritt King to leave Geneva the same day is really a huge loss for our City. God bless them both. Fred Cregier
ethel Lencioni April 29, 2012 at 05:11 PM
my heart goes out to Norma and her family. I'm not able to attend the funeral as I'm in Florida but I'll be praying for all of you...Fondly, Ethel Lencioni \

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