Rosemont to unveil statue of controversial late mayor

ABC7 I-Team Investigation
ROSEMONT, Ill. (WLS) -- The memory of a controversial suburban mayor is about to be marked in a way usually reserved for superstar athletes: with a larger-than-life statue.

The late founder and 51-year mayor of Rosemont Donald E. Stephens will be publicly enshrined on Father's Day Sunday. Stephens founded the northwest suburb in 1956 and was its one and only mayor until he died in office in 2007.

A lightning rod politician who fended off allegations of mob ties his entire career, he was succeeded by his son who is the current mayor and will preside over the unveiling.

Sunday, on a pedestal outside village hall, a bronze statue of the iconic politician will be unveiled, the sculpture standing several taller than Stephens was in life.

A quote on the back of the pedestal reads, "The village is a business and the voters are my boss. They've hired me to do what's best for them and the future of Rosemont."

Stephens in bronze is being made by the same studio that did Michael Jordan at the United Center, Chicago Cubs legends Ron Santo and Ernie Banks at Wrigley Field.

Stephens wasn't always as revered. Sixty years ago when Stephens bought a local motel from Chicago Outfit boss Sam "Momo" Giancana, he said it was to rid Rosemont of mob ties. But the crime syndicate cloud never cleared. Stephens and Rosemont fought it for decades, but lost a major casino complex because of the bad rap.

He was tried twice in the early 1980s on fraud and bribery charges and acquitted in federal court both times, memories that to the end brought Stephens to tears.

"It's tough when somebody stands up and says, you know, 'the United States of America against him,'" Stevens said. "That's tough, especially when you did nothing."

The bronze-cast statue of Stevens also has a hefty price tag: $300,000. Village officials say the 1,500 pound sculpture is being funded by private donations.

The state has also declared Sunday as "Rosemont Day" in Illinois to commemorate the village's 60th anniversary.

The unveiling will take place at 10 a.m. on June 19 place on the east side of Village Hall at 9501 W. Devon.

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rosemontiteami team
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