After 17 years of serving Lake Zurich's Fire Prevention Bureau, administrative assistant Sharon Rodkey left her position—as well as the responsibilities described on her three-page long job description.
Rodkey was "our core and center, our heart and soul," said Assistant Fire Marshall Guy Trayling, her former supervisor. "She was the one who mothered and piloted all of our projects and saw us through so many changes; she managed everything expertly and ensured the changes were workable and did it all with warmth and professionalism."
Rodkey began her career in August of 1993, and she earned a reputation for organization and attention to detail with a strong measure of warmth and kindness.
Rodkey's position will go unfilled and her many responsibilities will now be delegated to different areas within the village.
Trayling said the department's new phone system will fill the gap in part and other responsibilities will be spread out, such as issuing permits to the building department.
Other jobs will be shifted back to headquarters, where inspectors will shoulder the load by handling administrative duties Rodkey previously performed.
Trayling added that the transition will likely be stressful, but if the bureau doesn't lose sight of the focus on quality—something he said Rodkey took very seriously—everyone will adjust in time.
Rodkey was also an integral part in setting up programs where fire inspectors go into the schools to teach Lake Zurich children fire prevention and safety. She worked with Lake Zurich schools to coordinate the curriculum.
And Trayling isn't the only one singing Rodkey's praises.
"With Sharon, you get what you see, a warm and truly helpful professional who cares so much about all of us," Lieutenant David Borst said. "She is the glue that held the bureau together, and she will definitely be missed. She's one of the good ones, and that's for sure."
When asked what she loved most about her job, Rodkey was unable to decide on just one thing.
"Every day is different, and the people I worked with became like family to me." Rodkey said on her final day with bureau. "This is more than a 9-to-5 job, because the firemen and women are here 24 hours at a time, so I met husbands, wives and their children and became close to so many."
Rodkey said she also enjoyed the workday between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.
"You wouldn't believe the wonderful aromas coming out of the kitchen," she said. "Firemen are great cooks, and I have gotten some amazing recipes."
The appreciation for Rodkey also extends to those who worked with her at the village in different departments as well as outside agencies.
Mary Meyer, who is with the Lake Zurich Building and Zoning Commission, worked with Rodkey through the years and had nothing but praise for her.
"Everyone knows Sharon by her warm personality, friendly smile and willingness to help wherever she is needed ," she said. "I am proud to call her a friend and will miss working with her."
Mike Ragnanese from Stanguard Fire Security also worked with Rodkey for a number of years.
"Sharon wore a lot of hats, and it was great to have that one contact that makes the job easier," Ragnanese said. "She is such a thoughtful person, and she knows everything there is to know about the bureau and what needs to be done. We will miss her so much."
Rodkey's final day at the bureau was Aug. 27, and later that evening a retirement party was held in her honor at the Biltmore Country Club. Co-workers and many friends gathered to honor her 17 years of exemplary service.
Lake Zurich Fire and Rescue Department serves Deer Park, Lake Zurich, Kildeer, Hawthorn Woods, North Barrington and parts of Lake Barrington Shores as well as unincorporated areas such as Forest Lake where Rodkey resides.
Now that she is retired, Rodkey says she wants to stop and smell the roses for a while after returning from a month-long trip to Minnesota with her husband and close friends.
After that, she said she plans on spending a lot more time with her five step-children and 13 step-grandchildren. Rodkey also wants to focus on her love of cooking, begin trap shooting again and volunteer her time in the community.