Stuart Stone was the publisher of two weekly newspapers in DuPage County and for a time was chief of the Glen Ellyn Volunteer Fire Company.
"Short of the people who founded this community, I can't think of anyone who has done more for Glen Ellyn," said Chief Phil Norton of the Glen Ellyn Police Department. "And much of what he did was invisible to the public."
Stone, 74, died of natural causes Feb. 4 at Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield, said his daughter, Carrie Leitzman. Stone, a lifelong resident of Glen Ellyn who also had a 700-acre farm in Savanna, Ill., had been battling respiratory ailments, his daughter said.
Born in Hinsdale, Stone grew up in Glen Ellyn and graduated from what now is Glenbard West High School. Stone earned a teaching degree from Northeast Missouri State Teachers College, now Truman State University, where he played football.
After college, Stone joined the family business. His father, Stuart W. Stone, had bought the Glen Ellyn News, a weekly newspaper, in 1944. His father also had served as chief of the Glen Ellyn Volunteer Fire Company, which was founded in 1907.
After Stone's father died in 1970, Stone took over as publisher of the Glen Ellyn News and its sister weekly newspaper, the Wheaton Leader, and then later launched smaller papers, the Winfield Estate and the Warrenville Post, which served nearby Warrenville and Winfield. He oversaw the papers until selling the chain in 1999.
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Stone began working for the Glen Ellyn Volunteer Fire Company — which is DuPage County's last volunteer fire department — in July 1963. He became chief in 1978 and served in that role for 23 years until retiring in 2001.
During his time as chief, Stone was a well-known champion in the community for the fire department, making the case that it saves taxpayers money when compared to a professional department. Stone, who also was a paramedic for more than a decade, also promoted an ordinance that the Village Board passed that requires newly built homes to have sprinkler systems.
Stone was widely known in Glen Ellyn for his volunteer spirit, serving for 45 years as the chair of Glen Ellyn's Salvation Army unit. He also was president of Glen Ellyn's Rotary Club and was very active in the Glen Ellyn Chamber of Commerce and local chapters of the Kiwanis Club, the Lions Club and the Masons.
For decades, Stone dressed as Santa Claus every year during the Glen Ellyn Chamber of Commerce's Holiday Walk. He also delivered food to the needy in town, Norton said.
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"He sometimes gave off a gruff persona, but he was a teddy bear," Norton said. "And he lived and breathed Glen Ellyn. And he was always there when you needed him."
Glen Ellyn Village President Alex Demos called Stone "a mentor to me and many others in Glen Ellyn."
"Stuart Stone never demanded respect; he earned it," Demos said. "Stuart held everyone accountable to step up and do the right thing. He also set the example and did that himself every day, every time."
Former Glen Ellyn Village President Michael Formento said he worked with Stone in a variety of organizations in Glen Ellyn over the past 45 years.
"I think Stu will be remembered for his generosity of time, and for helping wherever he could," Formento said. "He supported all the organizations in Glen Ellyn at one time or another."
After retiring as chief, Stone remained involved with the fire company while also spending time at his farm in northwest Illinois and riding motorcycles.
Two marriages ended in divorce. Stone is also survived by three grandchildren and three sisters, Carole Baumann, Jan Sanderson and Bartlett Village Trustee T.L. Arends.
Services were held.
Bob Goldsborough is a freelance reporter.
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