Wilhelm surprised by Citizen of the Year honor

By on July 25, 2009

by Susan O’Neill

Jim Wilhelm was surprised on Friday night when he received the Citizen of the Year award at the Sugar Grove Corn Boil.

“Not too much gets by me,” Wilhelm said, smiling and shaking his head.

Wilhelm’s family, friends and employees shared in the celebration with him.

“He will do anything for anybody,” his wife Stephanie said. “He’d give you the shirt off his back.”

Their neighbors agree with her assessment. When a bad storm came through Sugar Grove last summer, a couple of trees fell on Kahl and Lorainne Kinney’s new roof. Although it was a holiday, J&S Construction owner Wilhelm and his employees showed up and not only removed the trees, they came back after dark to fill in the holes left in their yard.

Wilhelm knew that the Kinney’s insurance would not cover the damage, because the storm was an act of God. When Kahl saw Wilhelm’s bill, he said, “What else do I owe you?” Wilhelm told him, “You can just wave when I drive by.”

The Kinneys are not the only recipients of Wilhelm’s generosity and hard work. The Corn Boil Committee received letters of support for Wilhelm’s nomination from the Sugar Grove Library, Village Hall, the Farmer’s Market, as well as a number of other residents.

But Wilhelm’s modestly deflected the praise.

“It’s not just me,” Wilhelm said. “It’s all my guys; my company and my friends. They do all the work.”

Friend John Guddendorf said that Wilhelm tries to bring to the community what it needs.

“He brings everybody together to get it done,” he said.

In addition to helping out his neighbors, Wilhelm has contributed his assistance and resources to many other projects, including the Little League Field in Kaneville and providing lights, heavy equipment, man power, and shuttles for the annual Corn Boil.

A 22-year resident of Sugar Grove, Wilhelm and his wife of almost 20 years have 3 daughters Samantha 19, Abbie 14, Halley 10 and one son, Shawn 8.

“He’s the best dad,” Samantha said. “He puts everybody before himself.”

The Citizen of the Year award was established in 1998 by the village of Sugar Grove and the Sugar Grove Chamber of Commerce & Industry to recognize an individual or group that best exemplifies Sugar Grove’s pioneering spirit.

Previous winners include Karen McCannon, Joe Wolf and Pat Graceffa.