Finding a Hometown and a Love for St. Charles

By Kathy Brens, Board Member Emeritus

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As the daughter of a U.S. Marine Colonel, moving every two years or so during my childhood was part of my life. Though much of the change was enjoyable, I missed the perks of growing up in one place. After my marriage to Jack Brens, whose family had moved to St. Charles in 1947, we started our life together in a tiny apartment in Aurora, followed by purchasing a home in Geneva (Horrors! Long time St. Charles arch rival—Jack could barely make himself sign the paperwork!) where we lived for eight years. Then in 1976, we moved to our home in St. Charles where I have lived ever since. I had already been teaching at St. Charles High since 1969, so my loyalties were already developing.

What a beautiful town St. Charles is, and I already knew from firsthand experience that it had a wonderful school system. I remember Jack telling me that one of the longtime Illinois Senators had a statement praising St. Charles as one of the most scenic areas in the country written into the Congressional record. I can certainly agree with that! The hills, the river, the trees, and the wonderful mix of old and new homes warm me to my soul!

In the early 90’s, Jack became involved with the Museum—anything to do with St. Charles and its history was important to him. We both participated in the Grave Reminders programs (finally getting to put my Theatre major to use!) and Jack became a Board member, eventually serving as Board President.

Jack died in December of 2009, and, somehow in the post funeral fog, I found myself on the Board of Directors! After a year or so, I was asked to serve as Vice President. Traditionally, the V. P. would become President after a year or two, but I took the position with the understanding that I would not become President. Joe Schelstreet was President at the time, but, after two years, he was promoted to Chief of the St. Charles Fire Department and resigned his position (when I thought he should serve as President for life!). It was at this time my late husband came to me in a dream and told me, “Get over yourself—of course you’re going to take it!”

I did serve as President for two years, and found my love for the Museum and my town growing with each event of service. I have loved working with the wonderful staff and doing my small part to help the town I have come to love. I have spent 43 of my 74 years in St. Charles and can now honestly say “I have a Home Town!”

Photo: Jack & Kathy Brens