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Schrader: Zweifels may be last but not bothered in the least

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017 11:33 p.m. CDT
(Barry Schrader for Shaw Media)
Jeff and Erin Zweifel point out their name which is the last one in the new Frontier phone book. Jeff also has a link to the water tower shown on the front cover.

Most people relish being first, but the Zweifel family holds a special place at the end of the Frontier phone book alphabetically.

And they don’t mind being there one bit. Jeff and Erin, plus their kids Hunter, a sophomore at Genoa-Kingston High School, and twins Jessica and Aidan, middle-schoolers in Genoa, have lived in that community since moving from Lake in the Hills in 2002. Erin said they wanted to raise their family in a smaller town and have found Genoa ideal for that.

I looked the Zweifels up in the new phone book, initially with the idea of interviewing the first and last families, but the first person whose name begins with an A declined. I found the Zweifels a delightful and interesting family to visit, so can easily fill a column with their story.

Erin works for a doctor in Elgin, and Jeff works at the DeKalb Park District. When he held up the phone book for me to take their photo, he commented that the front cover showing the old water tower at the Ellwood House was meaningful to him because he has worked on the wall and gate next to it. What a coincidence – the front cover and the last name in the book.

Zweifel is a German name. Erin said the priest who married them explained it meant “doubtful” in that language. Since they have been happily married for 19 years, there is nothing doubtful about their union.

Chatting with their children, I explained my ties to the Cogs. I am a proud 1958 graduate of GKHS, spending four years in the school building where their middle school is now.

Hunter plays football, basketball and baseball for the Cogs. I was team manger for all three sports under coach Harry Henigan. I didn’t ask Hunter if he was in the Letterman’s Club, something coveted by every athlete who went to G-K.

The twins have extracurricular pursuits I never enjoyed in school – Jessica is active in the Art Club and Aidan is in the Tech Club. We didn’t have art in our day (except finger painting and Crayola drawing in the early grades) and the only “high tech” I experienced was using an electric typewriter in Miss Tiffany’s office practices class. Not every boy took that class, but typing has served me well for more than 50 years now. I should also have taken her shorthand class, as my note-taking is dreadful.

When I walked into their living room I noticed three mounted deer heads on the wall, including a 12-point mounted buck that is the pride of Jeff, who takes his sons to Wisconsin each fall during whitetail deer season. He said they also do some bowhunting and fishing.

This is a fond recollection for me as I had almost identical interests during my growing-up years. So it was gratifying to spend a Sunday afternoon getting acquainted with the Zweifels.

I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did.

• Barry Schrader can be reached via email at or through P.O. Box 851, DeKalb, IL 60115.

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