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People

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People

Spend a full day in Naperville and the odds are good you will meet at least one person named Wehrli. The family has been in town since the 1840s, and at least 200 live there now, under either the name Wehrli or Drendel (to whom they are related by marriage five generations back). Descendants of Alsatian immigrants, Wehrlis now run a long list of Naperville businesses: excavating, appliance repair, architecture, law, travel agency, property management, and wood refinishing, among others.

They’re also community leaders. Ron Wehrli, a builder, is cochairing the town’s fundraising drive to help hurricane recovery efforts in Pass Christian, Mississippi. Last spring, Mary Lou Wehrli finished her term as a park commissioner. And in January, Grant Wehrli started an appointed term on the city council.

The little farm town their forebears knew has morphed into something way bigger, but at least one family member says the same attitude that prompted its remarkable growth remains to this day. “One of the best things about this place is a spirit that was here and has grown up with the city,” Mary Lou Wehrli says. “It’s a spirit of ‘get it done,’ that Jeffersonian idea of the public duty of an educated citizen. Community is something you have to say yes to, and most of the people who have come to Naperville have done it.”
–Dennis Rodkin

 

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