YORKVILLE – Kendall County forest preserve commissioners shared their own experiences about the ultimate Panther himself during the commission's meeting this week.
County forest preserve officials remembered Ken Pickerill, a former teacher and coach at Oswego High School who died on Sept. 12, during the forest preserve commission meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 17. Pickerill's contributions included his family donating a portion of the Pickerill-Pigott's forest preserve and house he helped build himself to the forest preserve district in 2017.
Commissioner Matt Kellogg was wearing his 1992 state championship ring from when he was on the Oswego High School football team while Pickerill, who was 91 when he died, was coaching for the school. He said Pickerill was a true living legend and that everyone thinks they have their own unique stories of him to share, including when he would do things like pay for someone behind him in line at Home Depot who couldn’t afford whatever they were trying to buy or he would buy sports equipment for a child who couldn’t afford it otherwise.
“By the time you’re done, there are 50 of those stories and you realize your story wasn’t unique, but it’s also so neat because everybody got to share that,” Kellogg said.
Commissioner Audra Hendrix said Pickerill always went above and beyond to help people If you added up all of the things that Pickerill did throughout his life, she said, it’s an incredible example of how someone can serve their community as an individual, as well as someone hired for a job within the community.
Hendrix said everyone should all take away inspiration to do at least one Ken Pickerill move every day for the rest of our lives and, if they did that, to imagine how much better the community could become than it already is.
“That’s just one life," Hendrix said. "And his impact was extraordinary.”
Kendall County State's Attorney Eric Weis said he played football for Oswego High School while Pickerill was coaching from 1986 to 1990. He said Pickerill always was willing to literally give away his own property, along with his time and effort, to better the community.
“He has dedicated so much to so many for so long that I’m sure it’s the least the forest preserve can do,” Weis said.
The Pickerill-Pigott Forest Preserve, located off Minkler Road south of Oswego, is not yet open to the public. Dave Guritz, executive director for the county's forest preserve district, said he anticipates the preserve being open to the public come next summer.
Guritz said the possibility of a memorial being erected at the forest preserve will continue to be discussed but nothing is set in stone as of yet. He said he anticipates a site plan to be brought to the forest preserve commission finance committee meeting 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26 at the county office building, 111 W. Fox St.
Memorial services for Pickerill are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 22 at Jackie's Field of Dreams at the Oswego High School, 4250 Route 71 in Oswego.