Perhaps it's only fitting that as a lifelong Lake Forest resident, John Looby leaves his post from the Fourth Ward with the title as the city’s “longest serving alderman.”
After serving nearly eight years on the city council, he stepped down from his post Monday night to make way for his replacement, Michael Adelman, who was elected in April.
Looby was appointed to Fourth Ward alderman in 2003, serving an 18-month term. In 2005, he was re-elected to his seat, and since then has served three, two-year terms.
If he were able to, Looby would have run for another term in office. Term limits are the only reason why Looby is stepping down from his seat on the city council.
“I’ve really enjoyed working with the city staff and with the citizens,” he said.
Longevity is nothing new to Looby. He has been an active community member and business owner as head of Lake Forest Flowers for the past 30 years.
“Due to my business, I know every street in Lake Forest,” Looby said.
His desire to serve the city of Lake Forest has also seemed to rub off on his children, especially his daughter, Eileen Looby, who now works side by side with her father running the flower shop.
Eileen, who attended Carmel High School in Mundelein - the same school as her father - credits the school with instilling in her father a great deal of his desire to serve Lake Forest.
"Part of their emphasis is building leaders who give back to the community," explained Eileen.
Aside from his education, however, Eileen believes her father's persona is deeply intertwined with the community. His desire to be involved comes naturally. It's personal.
"He always encouraged volunteerism, and giving back to the community. From his upbringing he learned if you have talent, and can give back, then you should."
Eileen has also grown to appreciate what her hometown has to offer, intends to stay in Lake Forest, and has even purchased her own home here.
"I actually made the decision to come back and join him," she said. "That's a choice that I made."
Looby's children becoming active members of the community is just another addition to his family's long and extensive history in Lake Forest. In fact, many credit Looby’s history in the city with his successful run as alderman.
“He is a lifelong community member, and business owner,” said former Lake Forest Mayor Michael Rummel, who served from 2005-2009. He currently serves on the city’s Downtown Commission.
“None of us mayors have lived in the community our entire lives. It’s helpful to have someone like John on the city council,” Rummel added.
Added Third Ward Alderman Kent Elliott Novit, "You heart, your wishes for the community to success. I don't think anyone loves Lake Forest more than you do."
While Looby has been an alderman, he has served as the chairman of the Public Works Committee, overseeing various major projects throughout the city, including a downtown resurfacing project on Western Avenue.
“He did a great job, and did it on time, and on budget,” said Rummel.
Looby is also proud of the work that went into getting the city’s sewer back-ups connected, and the construction of the new municipal building.
“That had been in discussion over and over since 1980,” he noted.
There are other city projects underway, or oming down the pike including the renovation of the east side train station and the effort to update Forest Park that Looby says he is excited about.
“Something will be done that will be great for the city,” he said.
Looby’s knowledge of the city and its residents was also extremely helpful to fellow Fourth Ward Alderman Robert Palmer, when he began serving on the city council two years ago.
“He’s an encyclopedia of what’s gone on in the city,” said Palmer. “He has invaluable knowledge and experience.”
First Ward Alderman Tom Morsch noted the value of Looby's sense of community history in council matters Monday night.
"Your balance of history in the community and how it helps us make decisions has been invaluable," Morsch said.
Even with Looby leaving the city council, nobody expects to see him step down from a continued active role in the Lake Forest community. He was recently appointed to the new board of directors at Gorton Community Center, and will stay active as a Lake Forest business owner.
“He was at the last Downtown Commission meeting, and was very helpful,” said Mike Rummel.
Prior to serving as alderman, Looby served on previous Gorton Boards, the Council at the Church of St. Mary, and the Zoning Board of Appeals.
“I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of John,” said Rummel.
Eileen Looby, who remembers following her father to Rotary Club and caucus meetings as a child, hopes that she herself will eventually serve Lake Forest in a similar capacity as her father.
"I absolutely feel that the apple hasn't fallen from the tree," she said, adding that she hopes to one day even follow in her father's footsteps to the Lake Forest City Council. "Hopefully then he can play a lot more golf," she added.
In the meantime, Looby looks back fondly at his time on the city council.
“It’s been an honor and a privilege working with the citizens of Lake Forest,” he said.