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La Voute chef down to earth but with big vision

(Photo by Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)

The next time you sit under a tree at Ballantrae Park, swing a bat on an Apollo Park diamond or admire the landscaping around the Irwin Center, think of Adolfo Villagomez.

This Homewood-Flossmoor Park District employee leaves April 29 after 26 years of mowing, landscaping, planting trees, plowing snow and doing a host of other jobs on the six-man parks crew.

“He’s a worker everyone would want on their team—a great guy who has so much experience. He will be hard to replace,” said Mike Wathen, parks foreman who calls Villagomez “probably the best guy I’ve seen on a tractor in all my years.”

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He’s also designated Villagomez the crew’s tree guy who planted trees each fall.

“I can’t even guess the number of trees he’s planted in 26 years, but it’s in the hundreds,” Wathen said, especially when the park district developed Millennium, Patriots and Ballantrae Parks. The emerald ash borer did a tremendous amount of damage in the parks, and Villagomez helped remove nearly all the ash trees.

Villagomez started with the park district in 1989 as a part-time maintenance man at the park district’s ice arena. His duties included driving the Zamboni at the H-F Ice Arena. After just a few months, he was hired on full time joining the parks crew in warmer months and moving to the ice arena October through April.  In 2000, Villagomez moved full time to park maintenance.

He arrived in the United States 44 years ago and took a job at a nursery in Kankakee. He later took a job at Monee Nursery and was there for 10 years before coming to the park district. 

Villagomez says he’s ready to give up his seat on the tractor.  He wants to spend time with his wife of 41 years, Cheryl, and do some traveling.

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