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Bradt honored for longtime service to DeKalb Rotary

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(By DAVID THOMAS – dthomas@shawmedia.com)
Pat Venners shares stories of her grandfather, Charles Bradt, with members of his rotary club Monday night. DeKalb Rotary honored Bradt by placing a plaque with his name in Rotary Park. Bradt, 108, died in December. Many of his family members, including his eldest daughter Barb Burkart (sitting), were at the dedication.

DeKALB – It’s hard to find an organization in DeKalb that didn’t have Charles Bradt as a member.

He was the president and publisher of DeKalb County Press, the president of the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce and treasurer of the NIU Foundation.

He was the first president of Kishwaukee Country Club, which led to the club honoring him by naming the first hole on the golf course for him, explained his granddaughter Pat Venners.

And since 1958, Bradt was a member of the DeKalb Rotary Club, which honored him Monday night at a dedication ceremony in Rotary Park. A plaque with Bradt’s name joined eight others that sit on a low wall in the park.

“Rotary was a big thing for grandpa,” Venners said, who described how Bradt donated his time-shares to a Rotary Club in Tennessee when he no longer had use for them.

Bradt passed away at age of 108 in December, one of the oldest people in the county.

When Rotary International – the larger organization – celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2005, Bradt was driven to the ceremony by his longtime friend Sally Stevens. Stevens, who worked as a presidential secretary at Northern Illinois University for 32 years, reflected on her friendship and experiences with Bradt to the other Rotarians.

Stevens described herself as Bradt’s chauffeur, taking him to NIU men’s and women’s basketball games when he could no longer drive. Rotary Club President Tim Hughes added that Bradt was a big donor to women’s athletics at NIU.

But driving him around had another meaning for Stevens, as well. Stevens’ grandfather drove Bradt’s father around for a living.

“Charlie, in his later years, said about me, ‘Her grandfather looked after me when I was young, and Sally looks after me when I’m old,’ ” Stevens said, prompting laughter from the group of 30.

Stevens said Bradt has known her for all 81 years of her life, but the two didn’t become friends until they were both residents of the Oak Crest DeKalb Area Retirement Center in DeKalb.

At Monday’s meeting, Bradt was remembered a civic-minded man with a good sense of humor.

“He cared about all of the good things in DeKalb,” Stevens said.

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