Glencoe Park District’s longtime Executive Director Rodney Aiken, who retired on June 30, 2009 after 18 years with Glencoe Park District, and a total of 32 years in the parks and recreation field, passed away on July 3, 2014. Born April 4, 1950 in Naperville, IL the son of Shirley Ramsdell and the late Lawrence Aiken.
Rod was the beloved husband of Lynn, loving father of Andrea (Ed) Chacon, Rebecca McClure and Andrew (Holly) McClure, cherished grandfather of Eddie, Ethan, and Landon Chacon, and dear brother of Kim (Micky) Aiken.
Aiken contributed not only to program development throughout his time in Glencoe, but also to the updating and re-development of the Park District infrastructure. Many parks and facilities were renovated, including Friends Park in 1995, Lakefront Park along Glencoe Beach in 1997, Shelton Park in 2006, and a substantial Watts Center renovation in 2001. One of the largest achievements occurred when the Park Board and School District #35 Board approved a land exchange at no cost to Glencoe families, through which the title of the former North School was transferred to the Park District.
The Community Center renovation, spearheaded by Aiken and completed in 2008, was a major project and milestone for the Glencoe community. The project began in the mid 1990’s and included years of planning, research, and community focus groups, which concluded with a very successful referendum. Today, the Community Center is a beautiful landmark in Glencoe that retained its historic integrity with tasteful touches of modern architecture and aesthetics.
“I had the privilege to be on the Board that hired Rod,” states Park Board President Hilary Lee. “I feel very lucky to have been a part of Rod's tenure. I will miss his amazing calmness and his incredibly upbeat outlook on life.”
Aiken’s career in parks and recreation started as a teenager. He thrived and enjoyed recreation programs as a child, and began working at a local YMCA throughout high school. This led to the declaration of a Parks and Recreation Administration major in college, and graduating with both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in the field. Aiken served the Elmhurst Park District for two years as Recreation Supervisor, then as Recreation Center Director. He later joined the Palatine Park District for nine years as the Superintendent of Recreation. During his career, Rod was a member of the National Recreation and Park Association and a member of the Board of Directors of the Illinois Park and Recreation Association.
"Rod Aiken led the Glencoe Park District during a time of explosive growth in facilities, programs, and attendance by Glencoe residents. He cared about this community and served it well,” said Commissioner Robert Kimble. “He was also a good friend. My wife, Peggy, and I always cherished time with Rod. He was both thoughtful and fun. We had great conversations. We will miss him. Our thoughts are with Lynn and the other members of his family."
In lieu of flowers, memorials to the Illinois Park and Recreation Foundation Leadership Academy, 536 East Ave, La Grange, IL 60525 or the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society, P.O. Box 617, Douglas, MI 49406.
A celebration of Rod's life will be held on Wednesday, July 9, 2014 from 4:00-7:00 PM at Glencoe Community Center, 999 Green Bay Road, Glencoe, IL 60022. Arrangements entrusted to: Friedrich-Jones Funder Home & Cremation Services, 44 South Mill St, Naperville, IL 60540.