ALGONQUIN – James R. Rakow (pronounced Rayco), 81, of Algonquin, was born Dec. 15, 1928, in Elgin, to Waldemar Alvin and Jeanette (Taylor) Rakow. He passed away peacefully Friday, Dec. 10, 2010, at Valley High Nursing Home in Woodstock surrounded by his loving family.|
From the time he was 11 years old, he worked with his father, Waldemar Rakow, in the surveying business surveying roads in Kane, McHenry and Lake counties.
In 1949, he graduated from Elgin High School and continued his education at Bradley University, graduating with a degree in engineering.
During the Korean War, he proudly served his country as a member of U.S. Navy aboard the USS Cunningham. He graduated from Officer Candidate School in 1953 with the rank of Lieutenant JG and was honorably discharged from the U.S. Naval Reserve in 1967 as a lieutenant.
For more than 15 years, he was a partner with his father in WA Rakow Engineering & Surveying in Elgin.
He worked for Baxter & Woodmand in Crystal Lake before becoming McHenry County Superintendent of Roads/Engineer; he served the county for more than 24 years in that capacity.
James put in more than 11 years of legwork and played a vital role in procuring the right of way for the road connecting Route 31 with Randall Road, completed after he left his position. His work was so appreciated that this road, James R. Rakow Road, was named in his honor.
He oversaw and planned the replacement of Pearl Street Bridge in McHenry, Rawson Road Bridge, and many county bridges, which included widening of pavement and shoulders. He also was instrumental in the building of the Charles Miller Bridge in McHenry, beginning with purchasing the land through engineering the roads east and west of the new bridge.
James actively was involved with local, township and county agencies in development, expansion and improvement of roads, including Randall Road north/south corridor, Algonquin Road widening, and Northern Algonquin Bypass (now known as the Western Algonquin Bypass). He was responsible for construction and maintenance of more than 200 miles of county roads.
He worked diligently to reconfigure the Township Highway Commissioner operations; he promoted and aided in the development of current McHenry County Zoning and Subdivision Ordinances, laid the groundwork for McHenry County Stormwater Ordinance, and upgraded the Highway Department to meet the demands of the 21st century.
He served as an adviser to and board member of CATS (Chicago Area Transit System) and actively was involved with numerous area engineering associations and societies.
From 1993 to 2005, he worked for SEC Group Inc. in McHenry, using his professionalism to help it grow to the large firm it is today, producing quality work. Known for his belly shaking laughs and sly sense of humor, "JR" became a true personality at SEC and always will be remembered as a valued friend, good-natured, a gentleman, and a true professional. "We at SEC owe him much and plan on dedicating a part of our business to him."
In his earlier years, he was very active with the Elgin YMCA. He enjoyed playing racquetball, handball and golf, as well as boating, crossword puzzles, the Bears, and the Cubs. He and his wife, Phyllis, loved to travel and vacation in the British Virgin Islands on various sailing vessels.
A man of integrity, James was an honest, intelligent, kind, caring and thoughtful person; he always was the epitome of a true gentleman and will be greatly missed by all who knew him.
He is survived by his best friend and loving wife, Phyllis K. Walters; his loving children, Diane (Charles) Griffin, Ansley Webster, Andrea Walters and Anthony (Sheri) Walters; his cherished grandchildren, Luke, Jessica and Rebecca Grossman, Jennifer (Michael) Tramantana, April (Len) Molenda-Nichols, Laurin (Sadiq) Adeniran, Abigail Lindahl and Ashley and Benjamin and Cole Walters; two treasured great-grandchildren, Len Molenda-Nichols and Destiny Molenda-Nichols; his sister, Ruth Ann Rakow Crandall; a brother-in-law, Chris Kobel; and a sister-in-law, Marie Holtz.
Preceding him in death were his parents; his stepmother, Lois Rakow Graning; his son, Steven Rakow; and his grandson, Alex Grossman.
The visitation will be from 2 to 8 p.m. Monday, Dec. 13, at Davenport Family Funeral Home, 419 E. Terra Cotta Ave. (Route 176), Crystal Lake. The visitation will continue on from 10 a.m. until the services at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 14, at the funeral home. Interment with military honors will follow at the Algonquin Cemetery.
Memorials may be made in his name to Valley Hi Nursing Home, 2406 Hartland Road, Woodstock, IL 60098, 815-338-0312; or Parkinson's Disease Foundation, 1359 Broadway, Ste 1509, New York, NY 10018, 800-457-6676.
Online condolences may be sent to the family at www.davenportfamily.com. For information, call the funeral home at 815-459-3411.