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Volkers will celebrate 60th wedding anniversary

Richard “Dick” and Loretta Volker of 304 Elm Place, Princeton, will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary on Aug. 27 and Dick will celebrate his 85th birthday Aug. 30.

They are the parents of Jeffrey Eric (wife Karen) of Arlington Heights, Todd David (wife Linda) of Ottawa and Celeste Benak of Naperville. They also have seven grandchildren, Joe Volker of Coralville, Iowa, Joshua Volker of Oak Park, Nicholas Benak and Grace Benak of Naperville, Leo Volker of Ottawa, and Tori Malek and Nathaniel Malek of Arlington Heights.

After graduating from Streator High School, Loretta attended Silver Cross Hospital School of Nursing in Joliet and Joliet Junior College and became a registered nurse. While completing her education there she was encouraged by the nursing educators to continue her education to get a bachelor’s degree in education and become a nursing educator. Loretta went on to Millikin University in Decatur and received her bachelor’s degree in psychology and education.

Loretta’s experience includes Veterans Hospital at Hines and Veterans Hospital at Dwight. While employed at Memorial Hospital of Du Page County in Elmhurst, she wrote a training program for nurse aids which was bought by the state of Illinois leading to a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) designation.

When the family relocated to Princeton, Loretta taught nursing programs and psychology at Illinois Valley Community College. While attending Bradley University studying for her master’s degree in counselor education she was employed by Allied Agencies where she regionalized a “high risk” infant research program. Thereinafter she was employed by Sinnissippi Mental Health Center, Covenant Children’s Home and Catholic Social Services.

While in Lombard and attending St. Pius Catholic Church and then in Princeton at St. Louis Catholic Church, Loretta taught CCD for 18 years. Over the years she has been very active in her church serving as a Eucharistic minister, lector and parish nurse. In 1991, Loretta experienced a Catholic Cursillo (a three-day spiritual renewal program). She then went on, along with Dick, to teach people in the Quad Cities who had attended Cursillos how to form the Lutheran replication of the Cursillo, which is called Via de Cristo. The two of them have been instrumental in forming three Via de Cristo (a way with Christ) organizations — Living Water in the Quad Cities and Princeton area, Heart of Illinois in the Peoria area and Taste of Grace in the Plainfield area.

Loretta recently retired from the Bureau County Board after serving for 16 years. While on the board she represented it on the Bureau County Health Department where she was instrumental in forming the only tri-county health department in the state (Bureau, Marshall, Putnam counties).

After graduating from Wenona High School, Dick went to Illinois State Normal University for five semesters the enlisted in the Illinois Air National Guard. Upon returning from basic training, he completed his bachelor’s degree at Eureka College majoring in business administration with minors in marketing and journalism.

Before completing his education, he was hired by the Coca-Cola Company for a sales management position. After 14 years with Coke, Dick was offered and accepted a sales management position with FS Services, an agricultural organization based in Bloomington, meaning a move from Lombard to Princeton. After five years with FS, Dick was offered the position of sports editor for the Bureau County Republican newspaper, a job at which he could practice his journalism studies.

While writing sports, his former boss and friend with Coca-Cola paid a visit and said they wanted him back. With Coca-Cola always in his veins, he returned to Coke and finished out a more than 40-year career with the company.

Dick started umpiring baseball when he was 19 years old and was an Illinois High School Association certified umpire for 37 years umpiring college, high school and all types of semi-pro baseball. He earned the honor of umpiring three consecutive IHSA state finals tournaments. He officiated college and high school basketball for 25 years.

Always believing that “volunteerism is the price you pay for living in a community,” Dick coached his sons in Little League and Pony League baseball in Lombard and Princeton. He was a member of the Princeton Optimist International organization for many years, serving as president of the Princeton club for two years and then being the Illinois State Governor for Optimist International for a term. One of his proudest accomplishments was that he served as a commissioner for the Princeton Park District for 12 years and was also an Illinois Association of Park Districts trustee.

As a member of St. Matthews Lutheran Church in Princeton, he was on the church council for three separate terms and president of the church council in 2018.

For the past 12 years, Dick has been assisting senior citizens with their health insurance as an insurance agent.

Having a Coca-Cola background, it was natural for the Volkers to be Coke memorabilia collectors and as such members of the Windy City Coca-Cola Collectors Club for which Dick served as president for two years. Loretta has a Coca-Cola museum in her kitchen which was featured on Fran Riley’s Channel 6 newscast several years ago.

Dick has created a “History of Coca-Cola” presentation which he presents to retirement communities, public libraries, historical associations, chambers of commerce and park districts for a fee. Loretta and he enjoy visiting many cities throughout Illinois and Iowa delivering this educational, nostalgia-filled, fun-filled program.

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