Digital Access

Digital Access
Access from all your digital devices and receive breaking news and updates from around the area.

Home Delivery

Home Delivery
Local news, prep sports, Chicago sports, local and regional entertainment, business, home and lifestyle, food, classified and more! News you use every day! Daily, Daily including the e-Edition or e-Edition only.

Text Alerts

Text Alerts
Choose your news! Select the text alerts you want to receive: breaking news, prep sports scores, school closings, weather, and more. Text alerts are a free service from, but text rates may apply.

Email Newsletters

Email Newsletters
We'll deliver news & updates to your inbox. Sign up for free e-newsletters today.

Brain cancer claims former Sterling schools superintendent

'He helped our district transition ... into new era'

STERLING – Wil Booker probably subscribed to the notion that it takes a village to raise a child.

“He believed each and every student was worth working with and for,” said his wife, Mary. “He believed everybody deserved an equal chance.”

Booker, who served as superintendent of the Sterling Public Schools from 2003 to his retirement in 2008, believed collaboration and community support of schools bred results.

“He helped our district transition ... into a new era that really focused on results in student achievement,” Sterling Superintendent Tad Everett said.

Booker died Saturday after battling brain cancer since May 2011. He was 66.

Getting his start as an art teacher, Booker worked in schools throughout northern Illinois. He served as an assistant superintendent in a Nevada school district for 5 years before coming to Sterling.

“I’ve never, ever experienced the kind of community support I’ve experienced here,” he told Sauk Valley Media in 2003. “It makes my job more enjoyable to see the kind of community support given to schools.”

While at the helm in Sterling, Booker implemented budget cuts, held the line on expenses and sought new revenue, so that the district budget was balanced for much of his tenure. Also during his watch, two elementary schools earned special state academic recognition, and one received a national award for excellence.

Booker believed collaboration made for a strong district and got results, said Everett, who served as assistant superintendent for 3 years before taking the reins as superintendent.

“His leadership style was very collaborative,” Everett said. “He liked to communicate with all those involved. He liked shared decision-making.”

Mary Booker said her husband enjoyed his time in Sterling.

“He liked the smaller town, the warm community, and all the willing people who believed in education,” she said.

In addition to his wife of 45 years, survivors include his daughter, Michelle, of Sterling, and his son, Jason, of Chicago.

A celebration of his life will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday at McDonald Funeral Home, 505 First Ave. in Sterling.

Loading more