GENEVA – For years, Dean Kilburg has been known in Geneva for his selfless volunteering spirit.
Kilburg served 12 years on the school board – half as president – and currently is a 3rd Ward Alderman. Kilburg was president of the Geneva Sports Boosters; serves on the Geneva Community Chest; and serves on the Citizens Advisory Board at Fermilab. For the last 27 years, Kilburg also helped move the chains at Viking home football games.
Because of his selfless devotion to the community, the Geneva Chamber of Commerce named Kilburg the recipient of its 2017 Wood Community Service Award on Nov. 9 at a dinner held at the Eagle Brook Country Club in Geneva.
An astonished Kilburg was nearly speechless as he accepted the award.
“Thank you,” Kilburg said. “I’m at a loss for words."
But Kilburg soon found his stride.
“There’s one person I need to thank first and that’s my wife, Linda,” Kilburg said. “Linda’s been a tremendous partner over the last several years. She’s been such a supporter and given me the opportunity to do so many things in my life.”
Scott Lebin, chairman of the Geneva Chamber Board, described Kilburg as the “quintessential servant leader.”
“The servant leader thinks of other people first and helps both people, organizations and communities achieve their goals,” Lebin said. “A person who is a leader because of position or power whether in government or business begins from a different philosophy than the servant leader. It takes a special person to dedicate himself to help others achieve success.”
Kilburg was born in 1949, the youngest of three brothers, and grew up on a farm in eastern Iowa in a small town of 2,400, Lebin said.
Kilburg married his high school sweetheart, Linda, attended Loras College, and became a teacher, before leaving that profession to work in agribusiness, Lebin said.
“I’ve heard it said by presidents of very large corporations [that] if you hired someone from Iowa, you knew the odds of gaining a good employee [were] very strong," Lebin said. "Because they often grew up with strong values and would represent the organization well.”
After they were married, they had four children.
In 1977, Kilburg was quoted in a Bellevue, Iowa, newspaper stating, “Washington D.C. isn’t going to solve all our problems. Some have to be solved by people in their own community.”
Lebin said Kilburg changed jobs to agribusiness, eventually moving to Geneva where he and his wife raised their four children.
Quoting Kilburg, Lebin said, “All that you put into the lives of others comes back into your own.”
Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns also praised Kilburg's commitment to the city.
“A genuine good guy, Dean selflessly invests his considerable talents for the betterment of everyone who calls Geneva home and reminds us that good citizenship is first and foremost about doing good for others,” Burns said.
Community Chest member Cookie Olson said Kilburg was “someone who believes in giving back to the community, not for personal gain or benefit, but because that’s what community members should do.”
“He has a good heart and the desire to help others,” Olson said.
Other ways Kilburg has served the community include 10 years volunteering for Proud Retired and other Individuals Dedicated to Education – PRIDE – a program where seniors serve as a teacher’s extra pair of hands or to be a tutor, mentor or role model for students in Geneva schools.
Kilburg is a past member of Kane County Citizens Advisory Board, the Geneva Strategic Planning Design Team, Geneva Academic Foundation, United States Jaycees and Iowa Jaycees.
“Through his service on the school board, city council and various other organizations, my father has made contributions to our community that I believe have positively impacted every resident and visitor of Geneva over the past three decades,” Kilburg’s son, Aaron Kilburg, said. “I’m proud of all of these accomplishments.”
The Wood award is presented to an individual who has made significant community contributions in the areas of business, education, youth involvement, civic organizations, art, recreation, charity or government.