Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

Former Fontana president talks about service

by Jade Bolack

August 30, 2012

FONTANA — Being village president is quite an accomplishment, yet it’s not his time in office that makes Curt Hubertz smile the most.

It’s not the leadership, and it’s not the authority that he loved.

He loved the ability to get things done and to make a difference.

From April 1969 to April 1977, Hubertz served as Fontana village president, and he left an impression on those he worked with long after those eight years.

Tom Whowell, a village trustee during Hubertz presidency, remembers Hubertz well.

“I consider him a mentor of mine,” he said. “I always admired him. He wasn’t an aloof or standoffish guy. He took time to go to functions and committee meetings, and he met the village work crews.”

Whowell said Hubertz got along well with everyone, residents and other board members.

“He was enthusiastic about his work,” Whowell said. “I admired what he did so much, that he felt that need to give back to the community. That’s a lesson I took from him, that desire for community service.”

Hubertz, at 95 and a half, is still giving advice and, until recently, was still very active in community organizations.

His eldest daughter, Judy Kompare said Hubertz worked with the Rotary Club recently, and when he was younger, he was a Boy Scout leader.

To further fulfill his desire for community service, Hubertz also served as Santa Claus for the village for 54 years.

“I remember all the kids running after the fire truck,” he said. “I was in the costume, Santa, in the fire truck with candy and stuff for the kids.”

Kompare said that Hubertz would distribute candy and fruit to elderly residents before visiting the elementary school.

“They’d pull up with the fire truck,” she said. “All the parents would drive over and bring their little kids. Dad as Santa Claus would hand out all that stuff to them.”

In all the years he volunteered as Santa, he remembers just one time a kid acted up.

“I went to all the rooms (at the school),” Hubertz said. “In all my years being Santa, only one kid had the guts to reach in and put the rubber band way out and let it go. Snap, right into my chest. That boy almost got a thrashing.”

Two of his five sons, Peter and Patrick, followed in those Christmas spirit footsteps. Hubertz had three daughters as well, and he now has 17 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren with one more on the way.

“Peter played Santa when dad couldn’t,” Kompare said. “Patrick was Santa in Walworth for a long time.”

Patrick also serves on the Walworth Village Board and the Walworth School Board.

“He’s followed the most closely in dad’s footsteps,” Kompare said. “My father was born in Chicago, and he gave back to the village for being able to raise a family up in Fontana. He wanted his kids to be raised in a good community, in the country.”

While president

Hubertz knows why he held the office of president for so long.

“Most of the residents were happy with what I did,” he said. “I saved them money. That’s the main thing. I saved their money.”

Kompare remembers acting as a spokeswoman for her dad’s campaign.

“I remember talking to people,” she said. “I’d tell them to vote for dad. I’d give little plug ins for him.”

She said that her campaigning probably wasn’t necessary.

“There were all sorts of people calling up here, well it seemed at the time, a lot of people to me,” she said. “They all were asking him to run.”

Village politics haven’t left Hubertz alone since his presidency ended. According to him, the village re-paved his street “to take care of him.”

“They just re-did that hill out there,” he said. “They did that for me. Down at village hall, they want to make sure I’m alright up here.”

During the war

Hubertz was drafted into the Navy about a month after he was married, right after the Pearl Harbor attack.

“I was glad to go,” he said. “I was glad to be in the Navy. It was great.”

While he was serving, he had an option for promotion, but it wasn’t approved.

“One of the officers wanted me to transfer into the Seabees,” Hubertz said. “They wouldn’t let me.”

The Seabees, members of Naval construction teams, are famous for building bases and paving roadways in different theaters during World War II.

Until about 10 years ago, Kompare said Hubertz would meet with fellow sailors across the country at reunions.

“These men that all worked together during the war would gather,” she said. “All those years, they used to have mini-reunions and talk about their histories.”

Long life

Hubertz doesn’t apologize for anything that he did, or didn’t do, during his presidency.

“It is what it is,” he said. “It’s all government. It’s all over.”

That attitude has kept him going.

“What you see is what you get,” Hubertz said. “You always have critics, even if you’re not in politics. Just keep doing what you’re doing. You’ll be alright.”

The longer this former president lives, the fewer critics he has. He said he’d have to search to find some of them.

“You’d have to look in the graveyard,” Hubertz said, laughing. “That’s where you’ll find most of the answers.”