Mayor of Crystal Lake since 1999, Aaron Shepley died in his sleep at age 56 last night.
He was elected in 1999 after serving on the City Council for two years.
He also was appointed to the Pace Board and has served since then.
The former Mayor picked five of the six remaining on the City Council.
His only contemporary was Ellen Mueller-Brady, who ran for Algonquin Township Supervisor against Chuck Lutzow and lost.
Shepley presided over a growing city in the early 2000’s, then, a recession that severely affected the retail sector.
Crystal Lake made a comback during the 2010’s, but not to the extent he hoped.
Shepley foresaw the re-development of the Walmart-Cub Food shopping center into a Deer Park.
Shepley was Mayor when the new City Hall was built and it would surprise me not at all the building was re-named from Shepley.
The Mayor was in office when Dave Goss’ dream of turning Vulcan Lakes into a city park was achieved.
At first it was to be financed with a Tax Increment Financing District along Route 14. The Toyota car dealership was given financial incentives to move to Route 31.
But the deep 2007-8 recession eliminated that possibility, so the City Council raised the city sales tax by 75%.
The city got so desperate for development on that Route 14 TIF district that it allowed a car dealership–VW–to build there, thus ruining the long-term re-development plan.
Shepley successfully took on Crystal Lake High School District 155 when its Board tried to build a football stadium near a city subdivision without obtaining zoning permission.
Politically, Shepley served as a Republican Precinct Committeeman, even Vice Chairman for Outreach. But four years ago, he supported Democrat Jack Franks’ election for McHenry County Board Chairman.
He has not been opposed in recent re-election campaigns, seeing opponents kicked off the ballot for technical reasons by his fellow council members sitting as the Crystal Lake Board of Elections.
I figure the avid bicyclist’s longest lasting accomplishment will be the bike paths through Crystal Lake.
Or, perhaps for his immediate neighbors, the blocking of the extension of South Walkup Avenue past Crystal Lake Central High School to Route 14.
His support of the McHenry County College minor league baseball stadium, which was not supported by a sufficient number of colleagues, will be, if not already, forgotten.
Shepley and Councilman Brett Hopkins were active members of the Crystal Lake Strikers.
Shepley’s day job was at Centegra before the health system sold out to Northwestern Medical. He was highly paid.
Shepley led the fight to prevent Mercy Health System from building a hospital in Crystal Lake.
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The Coroner’s Office says Shepley died of
- cardiac arrhythmia
- ischemic heart disease
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From the City of Crystal Lake:
City of Crystal Lake Remembers Mayor Aaron T. Shepley
Crystal Lake, IL – It is with profound sadness the City of Crystal Lake announces the sudden passing of Mayor Aaron T. Shepley, who passed away at the age of 56.
Mayor Shepley served the City as Mayor for 21 years, since 1999.
He also served for two years as City Council member, from 1997 to 1999.
As the City’s longest serving Mayor, he impacted the community with a positive and empowering message.
Mayor Shepley championed a united City Council, working together for one purpose and vision: to make Crystal Lake a great place to live.
Mayor Shepley loved Crystal Lake and was a strong advocate for our community.
We celebrate his life and trust that his legacy will inspire all residents and businesses to serve their community.
The City of Crystal Lake extends our deepest condolences to his family during this difficult time.
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Cause of death, according to the McHenry County Coroner:
-Ischemic hear disease
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From the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce:
We Mourn the Passing of Crystal Lake Mayor, Aaron Shepley
It is with great sadness that we pass along the news that Crystal Lake Mayor, Aaron Shepley passed away early this morning.
Shepley was elected mayor of Crystal Lake in 1999.
He also served as President of Centegra Insurance Services and led the corporate legal and risk departments as General Counsel.
Mayor Shepley presented at our Annual State of the Community Event each year and worked hard to help create an inviting and collaborative business environment for Crystal Lake.
On behalf of the Board of Directors and Staff at the Chamber of Commerce, our heartfelt condolences go out to Mayor Aaron Shepley’s family.
His accomplishments and dedication to making Crystal Lake a great place to live and work will remain with us for a long time to come.
From State Rep. Tom Weber:
Rep. Weber Statement on Unexpected Passing of Crystal Lake Mayor
FOX LAKE – State Representative Tom Weber (R-Lake Villa), who represents the 64th District that includes the northern part of Crystal Lake, issued the following statement mourning the unexpected passing of longtime Crystal Lake Mayor Aaron Shepley:
“My heartfelt condolences to the family of Mayor Shepley and the entire Crystal Lake community,” said Weber. “His stewardship of the city over the past several years has been integral to it becoming a thriving and welcoming community for so many families today. His commitment to public service will be sorely missed.”
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And how can I forget this 2007 photo of Shepley after a statement from, I believe, Jeff Thorsen that he found not to his liking.
When one searched Google for a long while after for “rolling eyes,” his image came up,
Never could get the red out of his eyeballs, try as I might.