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Rey: History of DeKalb brought to life

Recent events have drawn me into reflections. An annual meeting of retirees from “DeKalb Ag” (aka Monsanto) heard Rich Ryan present the company’s 100-year history.

My working career spanned 37 years at the Ag. Ryan captured events and people who shaped the accomplishments of the world-renowned organization, which carries the name of this town.

Monsanto has continued the brand DeKalb, with further innovations, since acquiring the firm in 1998.

The DeKalb Area Agricultural History Association is a recently formed organization dedicated to collecting, preserving and sharing the history of agriculture and its innovators. Ryan’s presentation will eventually be posted on the DAAHA website.

The movie “Wired – The DeKalb Documentary” premiered Sept. 12 at the Egyptian Theatre. In her portrayal of DeKalb’s history, Shela Lahey has woven threads of history into a story told through testimonials of people who have influenced the community. Copies of her story are available on DVD from several local locations, including Lehan Drugs at 1407 S. 4th St. in DeKalb.

Much credit can be given to the excellent contributions these people have made to the history of the community. It is good to see the history preserved for generations to come.

The Joiner History Room in Sycamore and NIU Founders Library’s Regional History Center are also integral in preserving artifacts and documents of significance to the area.

The Regional History Center, based in Founders Library at NIU, is a unique component of NIU’s commitment to education, research and public service.

The center’s mission is to acquire, preserve and make available to the public the most significant historical records of the northern Illinois region, actively collecting from 18 northern counties of Illinois – excluding Cook County. The center contains three related sets of historical records: University archives, regional collections and local government records (Illinois Regional Archives Depository).

Reminiscing on local history raises the question – how can what I do today influence the future? Who we are is defined by our habits and values. What’s on the inside shows up in our behaviors and actions.

People with good habits and strong values are said to have character and integrity. Children learn through diligent training by wise and understanding parents or another successful person of good character, who teaches by precept and example.

The following quotations are pertinent:

“A man’s life is what his thoughts make of it.” – Marcus Aureilus, Roman emperor.

“A man is what he thinks about all day long.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

“We become what we think about.” – Earl Nightingale.

It is important for us to stay focused on something we would like to have or like to become. A goal is said to be a dream with a deadline. Writing our goals down can help. Each time a goal is reviewed, it is driven deeper into our subconscious mind.

We all leave our mark on history – let’s work to leave a positive legacy.

• John Rey lives in DeKalb and is retired from DeKalb Ag/Monsanto. He also has been employed with AXA Financial and Family Service Agency. He continues as an active community volunteer in several organizations. You may contact him at

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