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Developer brought new growth to Lake Geneva in the '50s

Developer brought new growth to Lake Geneva in the '50s

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In my last column, I reviewed the lives of five individuals who developed additions to the village of Geneva during the 19th century: E.D. Phillips, Harrison Rich, Andrew Ferguson, John Haskins, and Fernando C. Marsh.

And in a previous column, I profiled William F. Trinke, the most prolific developer of subdivisions in and around Lake Geneva during the 20th century.

In this column, I will recount the life of Clarke B. Habecker, the developer of Sturwood during the early 1950s, which was named after Buckingham Sturges, who had owned the land in the hilly area west of Elmwood Avenue upon which Habecker developed Sturwood.

Clarke B. Habecker was born in Danvers, Illinois, on Dec. 13, 1895. During World War I, he served in the U.S. Navy.

In May 1921, he came to Lake Geneva, where he co-founded the Habecker-Derrick Funeral Home with Thomas Derrick Sr. For years, it was located on the west side of Center Street between Main Street and Geneva Street, before Tom Derrickā€™s grandson, Dan Derrick, moved it to Edwards Boulevard.

Clarke Habecker married Edna Miller in Delavan on Sept. 14, 1921.

In Lake Geneva, Habecker held many public offices. He was a member of the Lake Geneva School Board and the Lake Geneva Police and Fire Commission. He represented the Second Ward in Lake Geneva on the Walworth County Board of Supervisors from 1945 to 1949 and from 1952 to 1957.

He was also a member of the Lake Geneva Cemetery Commission, the Chamber of Commerce, the Knights of Pythias, Frank Kresen Post #24 of the American Legion, the Masons, the Lions Club, and the First Congregational Church, of which he was a trustee.

In addition to being a co-owner of the funeral home, he owned a furniture store on the south side of Main Street at 734 Main St. Today, if one looks at the mosaic tile on the sidewalk at the entrance to the Clear Waters Salon Spa, one will see the name Habecker spelled out in the tile.

After a long and illustrious career, Clarke Habecker passed away in Lakeland Hospital on Saturday, May 25, 1957, at the age of 61. Among his survivors were his daughter, Wilma Habecker Bailey, and his granddaughter, Linda Bailey Bolini, who is a well known resident of Lake Geneva. Linda Lane in Sturwood is named after Linda Bailey Bolini.

Clark Habecker is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery.

Patrick Quinn is a Lake Geneva native who is the University Archivist Emeritus at Northwestern University.

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