George Pradel, former Naperville mayor, remembered

NAPERVILLE, Ill. (WLS) -- George Pradel, Naperville's longest-serving mayor, was remembered Saturday at a memorial.

Pradel died Tuesday after a two-year battle with cancer.

Several weeks ago, the 80-year-old was admitted to Edward Hospital for severe back pain. Doctors found a cancerous tumor and the cancer quickly spread to his whole body.

On Sunday, Pradel's family announced he entered into hospice care. On Tuesday morning, his family said he died while surrounded by his three children.

Wednesday would have been his 81st birthday. Pradel served as mayor from 1995 to 2015.

"I have such fond memories of him... he always made me laugh no matter what situation we were in. And his gift of laughter and his love of children is just what made me love him," said Kamala Martinez, who worked with Pradel for 21 years.

Pradel served as a police officer, a job in which he earned the nickname "Officer Friendly." He is also remembered for developing his Safety Town city programming.

In a statement, City Manager Doug Krieger said, "The entire City of Naperville mourns today over the loss of Mayor Emeritus A. George Pradel. George's enthusiasm for this City and love for its residents was second only to the love for his family - in fact, it was the Pradel family's support for him that allowed George to devote so much of his life to Naperville.

George was the kind of man who knew everyone's name and, when he saw you, no matter how busy he was, he'd stop and see how you were doing. Everyone was equal in George's eyes - you were a cherished member of his extended Naperville family, and from the first time he met you, you were a friend.

We grieve the loss of George but are thankful that his time spent as a police officer, our Mayor and our first Mayor Emeritus changed Naperville forever. I am humbled and grateful that I could call this man my friend, and I join the many who are sending their sympathy to the entire Pradel family today."

Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico said in a statement, "George Pradel was the kind of community-focused individual that blesses a town once in a lifetime. His name will forever be remembered in our City, and when people think of him, they will remember an individual who quietly and humbly gave of himself through his 29 years as a police officer and then for two decades as our longest-serving Mayor.

A cheerleader and champion to all, George's legacy will live on through the city he helped shape. As the founder of Safety Town, we owe generations of our children's safety to this, his crowning achievement. This wonderful man will not be forgotten.

On behalf of the City Council, the City of Naperville and my wife Julie and our entire family, we send our deepest condolences to the Pradel family on the loss of George."

An additional public visitation will be held Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Naperville's City Hall.

Pradel will be laid to rest Monday in a military funeral overseen by members of Naperville's VFW Local 3873.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the A. George & Patricia C. Pradel Fund, c/o DuPage Foundation, 3000 Woodcreek Dr., Suite 310, Downers Grove, IL 60515.

All donated funds will be distributed to Mayor Pradel's favorite local charities and to help organizations like Safety Town of Naperville, Naperville Responds for our Veterans, Little Friends, Inc., and many others that help children and adults using art and technology.

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