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DesCoteaux made career of service

Former GenevIllinois mayor Paul Des Coteaux

Former Geneva, Illinois mayor Paul Des Coteaux

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Updated: December 7, 2012 9:42AM

GENEVA – Flags are at half-staff on city buildings throughout Geneva to honor the passing of long-time alderman and community servant Paul DesCoteaux.

DesCoteaux died Wednesday night at Alden Court here, just two days before his 84th birthday.

“Paul DesCoteaux was truly one of a kind,” said Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns.

The mayor then added that DesCoteaux had “two distinct sides.”

“He was a fearless crusader for the principles he believed in,” Burns said. “On the other side, he was a husband, father and grandfather. As heated as a City Council meeting could be, afterward, he was fun and gentle, because the topic of conversation was always his family.”

That family included his wife of 60 years, Terry, their five children and five grandchildren.

“They were the love of his life,” said Geneva Alderman Sam Hill, who served several years on the board with DesCoteaux.

“I would agree with him most of the time, but he would hold his ground,” Hill said. “There were a few cases where he was the only vote on one side.”

DesCoteaux had served 20 years on the Geneva City Council when he decided not to run again in 2009. Those years included a one-year stint serving as interim mayor during 1996 and 1997, after the death of Mayor William Ottilie in a car accident.

A staunch conservative who also was involved in area Republican Party politics, he was known for insisting on competitive bidding for contracts and services the city entered into — sometimes even where there was only one company providing the needed service.

He also the driving force behind the Geneva Beautification Committee, which put together the downtown flower plantings and urged residents to beautify their properties. DesCoteaux often could be found working on his hands and knees with his gardening tools, planting and weeding throughout downtown.

“He really got that started,” Hill said. “What he gave birth to really evolved into a big factor in our downtown area.”

Professionally, DesCoteaux worked for Sun Oil Company and for Standard Oil of Indiana. He also was a management consultant for Lebanon Seaboard Corporation.

He was a volunteer for Fox Valley Literacy and served on the Board of Directors of the Fermilab Friends for Science Education.

DesCoteaux was a co-founder of Geneva Learners, a weekly study group focused on world affairs. He also was instrumental in organizing the Fox Valley Chapter of The Socrates Café, a global network of independent groups that meet to keep philosophical thinking in the forefront.

Funeral arrangements are being made by Malone Funeral Home in Geneva.

The public is invited to a memorial service in his honor from 4 to 8 p.m. Dec. 20 at the Geneva Golf Club.

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