A hometown remembers: Mourners bid farewell to Grundy sheriff
By Tony Graf email@example.com December 18, 2012 9:20PM
Updated: February 17, 2013 1:42AM
SOUTH WILMINGTON — Terry Marketti was elected to the village board in this town when he was only 18 years old, and he served in that role for 22 years. This was only a portion of the 11 elections he won in Grundy County during his lifetime.
When Marketti was 21, he began his career at the Grundy County Sheriff’s Department — a 34-year career in which he rose to the top rank and served as sheriff for eight years until his death Friday.
Marketti was remembered at his funeral Tuesday by hundreds of mourners and dozens of law-enforcement dignitaries. The long procession, including squad cars and fire trucks, filled Rice Road in South Wilmington. This was his hometown and the place where his career as a public servant began four decades ago.
In addition to his elected offices, Marketti served several charitable organizations, including Grundy Area Public Action to Deliver Sustenance; Breaking Away; the Community Foundation of Grundy County; Operation St. Nick; We Care of Grundy County; and Big Brothers-Big Sisters.
“I would put Terry’s record of public service and generosity, and giving to local charities, up there with anyone in the history of Grundy County,” said Circuit Judge Lance Peterson, who spoke in remembrance of Marketti at St. Lawrence Catholic Church.
‘Willing to help’
After his service in South Wilmington, Marketti served in elected office for several years on the Gardner Village Board. He also served on the Gardner Fire Protection Board.
Marketti became sheriff in March 2004, after the death of Sheriff James Olson. Marketti then ran unopposed in 2006, and was elected again in 2010.
Marketti had been treating medical issues and died in his sleep of natural causes Friday at age 56, Coroner John W. Callahan said.
On Tuesday, mourners filled St. Lawrence Church to capacity, and the overflow crowd took up half of the parish hall a block away. That crowd listened to a radio broadcast of the funeral on Morris station WCSJ-FM (103.1). In the hall, audience members prayed during the Mass of Christian burial, listened to the playing of bagpipes, and wept as the Rev. John Hornicak, Marketti’s pastor at St. Lawrence, remembered the late sheriff.
“Terry dedicated his life to serving the people of Grundy County,” Hornicak said. “He served on numerous boards for charities and organizations throughout the area. He also donated to many local charities, and helped many individuals throughout his life, often doing so without seeking recognition.”
“Terry was always willing to help, asking, ‘What do you need?’ and then making sure that need was met,” Hornicak said.
Sense of humor
“All of us know what a special person Terry Marketti was,” said Peterson, a judge in Grundy County Circuit Court. “Terry approached everything in his life with generosity, loyalty and of course that tremendous sense of humor.”
Peterson remembered Marketti’s trips to Cubs baseball games, Wisconsin, Florida and St. Joseph, Mich. The fishing trips to Michigan say something about his personality: He didn’t like to fish, but he went along for the friendship. Peterson remembers one trip in particular.
“We were having a good day — and a fish got on the line. It was (Marketti’s) turn to catch the fish, so he grudgingly got up, and he reeled it in. It was a really good fish,” Peterson said.
The excited first mate and the guide worked to get the fish out of the water, and remove the hook. One of them wanted Marketti to hold the fish — for a photograph, or for release back into the water.
“He goes to hand this big fish to Terry,” Peterson said. “Terry looks at him and says: ‘No, thanks. That’s what I’m paying you for.’”
The audience laughed. There also was laughter when Peterson added a little side note when remembering Marketti’s generosity.
“There were two things that Terry couldn’t do: He couldn’t say no, and he couldn’t sing,” Peterson said as the audience smiled. “The problem is that, apparently no one told him he couldn’t sing. He liked to sing. His favorite song in the world was ‘Sweet Caroline.’”
When Peterson finished his memories, he played “Sweet Caroline” for the audience. Some people in the parish hall quietly sang along with the refrain.
The line of squad cars, with light bars flashing, filled Rice Road outside St. Lawrence Church. Sheriff’s police from all around Chicagoland joined Grundy County police at the funeral. Municipal police departments attended from Morris, Minooka, Channahon, Joliet, Joliet Junior College, Lemont, Oswego, Batavia, Pontiac and elsewhere. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources was represented by conservation police.
Fire departments with representatives included South Wilmington Fire & Rescue, Gardner, Morris, Minooka, Mazon, Verona-Kinsman and Braidwood.
Burial was at Braceville-Gardner Cemetery in Braceville.