Township of Lyons clerk retires
Mary Jo Noonan ends 33-year run, 25 as clerk
By Steve Metsch
Mary Jo Noonan, after 33 years of working for the Township of Lyons, has decided it is time to move on.
Noonan, 75, of Western Springs, first was a township trustee for two terms, from 1985 through 1993. She has been the clerk since 1993, a solid 25 years of keeping records and tending to details many of us would find challenging.
Noonan announced her decision when the township board held its Christmas party earlier this month. At the board’s Dec. 11 meeting, she made it official. Her last day on the job will be Dec. 31.
“it’s been a pleasure, believe me,” Noonan told the township board at that meeting. “We all work together. This is how you do it.”
Township Supervisor Christopher Getty, before presenting Noonan with a bouquet of flowers from himself and the board, said, “we want to thank you for all of your time, all of your effort, everything you’ve done in that office.”
Michael Porfirio, the newest trustee on the board, called Noonan “a longtime rock and pillar of the community. We appreciate it, and thank you for your service.”
Noonan typically shrugged off the praise and plaudits, saying she was just doing her job.
It’s a job she did very well, said Countryside Mayor Sean McDermott, who is also the township’s highway commissioner.
“She has always been accessible, has always been there to provide us with assistance. She is the epitome of good public service,” McDermott said.
“You will be missed,” he told Noonan after the meeting.
Noonan’s replacement will be appointed by the board at a future date, Getty said. George Pach, the current deputy clerk, will fill in until a fulltime replacement is chosen.
“She’s lived a life of service, which is very admirable,” Getty said of Noonan. “We respect her and thank her for all she has done.”
In typical fashion, Noonan wasn’t keen on talking much about herself during a wide-ranging interview Friday in her corner office on the first floor of the township headquarters, 6404 Joliet Road, Countryside.
She grew up in Chicago. She and her late husband John were married in 1967 – two weeks after the Big Snow – their son Rob was born in 1968. When he was 6 months old, they moved to Western Springs in 1969.
“We didn’t even have sidewalks on Wolf Road. My dad asked, ‘Where the heck did you buy’,” she recalled with a laugh.
She eventually became involved in her church, St. John of the Cross, 51st and Wolf, as a crossing guard. In that role she got to know many people and many people got to know her. That served as a springboard.
“You become part of the community,” she said. And you become a precinct captain.
Based on her local popularity, the late Morgan Finley, former clerk of the Cook County Circuit Court and a longtime power in Democratic politics, tabbed her as a good candidate for township trustee.
She was surprised at the notion, but agreed to run for office. The only person to get more votes in that election was the late Joe Nekola, a political mover and shaker from Lyons.
Noonan learned to love township politics, especially being able to help senior citizens and other residents. That’s the main reason she’s been coming to work all these years and didn’t think about stepping down until recently.
After two terms as a trustee, she became the clerk and never lost a re-election bid. Her current term expires in the spring of 2020.
“I liked representing my peers in the community, I like helping others,” she said.
Noonan has always been friendly with reporters, probably because of her background.
Her late husband was owner and editor of the Desplaines Valley News from 1986 until his death from cancer in 2000 at age 58. After his death, she owned the paper until 2012, before selling it to the current ownership team.
Although she liked being in charge of the newspaper, she never sought the top job of supervisor in the township.
Clerk was a good fit for her, she said, helping the 17 villages and the residents living in unincorporated parts of the township.
“You do your best to help. You do the best you can to guide them along. If you don’t work for the people,” she added, “there’s something wrong.
— Desplaines Valley News