Retiring Village Manager William Barlow: Maywood Was The Fulfillment Of A Career Aspiration (Part Two)

For part one, click here.

By Michael Romain

MAYWOOD — At the January meeting of Neighbors of Maywood Community Organization (NOMCO) last Thursday, retiring Village Manager William Barlow opened up about his decision to leave local government and where he sees the Village headed after he’s gone. The 57-year-old was remarkably candid about the personal circumstances that had a hand in his decision to retire, not the least of which was the moment he discovered the late Anthony Thomas, Maywood’s coordinator of compliance, incapacitated on the floor of the code enforcement department. That’s when Mr. Barlow’s epiphany occurred.

Mr. Thomas’s death opened his eyes to the fact that he had to make a dramatic lifestyle change in order to deal with the personal consequences–high blood pressure and weight gain among them–that accompanied his more than two-year tenure in a highly stressful position. Mr. Barlow’s decision was met with both understanding and sadness among a community that, on the whole, seemed to have embraced the Shaumburg resident as one of its own.

After a short presentation (which was Mr. Barlow’s last NOMCO presentation as a sitting manager–he’s presented at every January NOMCO meeting for the last three years), encomiums and salutations flowed forth from the audience.

“When Bill joined the Chamber of Commerce, he didn’t just join the Chamber, he came to the monthly meetings and became a member of the board of directors,” said longtime Village clerk, trustee and current Rotary Club president Gary Woll. “When he joined Rotary, Bill went on the board and was a faithful attendee of the weekly meetings.”

“Thank you for having served,” said resident Lennel Grace. “I enjoyed working with you and hopefully the individual that comes after you is truly capable in the way that you are.”

Long-time Maywoodian and WWII veteran Leon Conner presented Mr. Barlow with a plaque of appreciation. The 95-year-old father of the late Mayor Ralph Conner made the outgoing Village manager an honorary member of a local community organization he founded along with his son. Mr. Conner, a first sergeant who was in charge of a service company of more than 250 men, said that he saw something of himself in Mr. Barlow. While describing the similarity, Mr. Conner hilariously illustrated just how thankless some leadership positions can be.

“Before I took [the sergeant position], I asked if I’d have any real authority. One of the officers said, ‘Let me tell you a secret. The job of first sergeant was created so we officers wouldn’t have a damn thing to do,'” the respected veteran said to wild laughter.

“Where I come from, you never let a person who did something good go without profit. But woe be unto the person who did something bad. You never let them forget it,” Mr. Conner said. Part of the inscription on the plaque read: “Remember, in all they ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path.”

Intermingled with the praise were some serious concerns about the future and a bit of guarded optimism. As a nod to the hopeful direction in which the Village is headed in certain areas, Melrose Parker Roberto Sepulveda, a member of the Maywood Rotary and an avid community activist throughout Proviso Township, prompted what may have been Mr. Barlow’s final sale’s pitch of sorts.

“Over the past couple of years, I’ve been to different events in Maywood such as the NOMCO home tour and based on those, I’ve considered buying a home in Maywood,” Mr. Sepulveda said. “There are lots of negatives you hear about Maywood, but what are three positive things you’d enlist in trying to attract new residents into the community.”

After pondering for a moment, Mr. Barlow mentioned the halving of the murder rate, Maywood’s central location and the town’s unique architectural significance as three of its biggest selling points.

“There are people in this town committed to maintaining quality housing and agencies like the Historic Preservation Commission that are working hard trying to preserve the unique architecture of our community.” VFP

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