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Board mourns, marks the loss of its elder statesman

Tony was sick, but fighting hard to get better. He’d spent a week in CGH Medical Center trying to get back on his feet, and when his doctors sent him up to Madison for further treatment, he didn’t argue.

His son-in-law, fellow Whiteside County Board member Bill Milby, paid him a visit and learned that Tony, a phenomenally die-hard Cubs and Bears fan, had gotten some blood during his treatment.

Wisconsin blood.

“I thought how funny it would be if he came back a Milwaukee Brewers fan,” Bill said, the board room erupting in laughter. “That would be bad enough. It would be even worse if he came back a Green Bay Packers fan.”

Bill and Tony shared a laugh at the thought, and then his father-in-law, in the fight of his life, asked him about the upcoming primary election, and what was coming up at the next board meeting.

Devoted to the end.

The County Board met Thursday for the first time since the death of its longtime compass and elder statesman, Tony Arduini. With his wife, Arlene, and other family members in the audience, grieving members passed a resolution honoring their “esteemed colleague.”

“Mr. Arduini’s passing leaves a legacy of conscientious service, characterized by a fervent desire to make decisions supporting and affirming the common good,” it read.

Arduini died March 4 in his Rock Falls home. The 92-year-old Army veteran dedicated his life to public service, sitting on the Whiteside County board the last 49 years. He was its chairman from 1990 to 2012.

He also was a justice of the peace from 1953 to 1961, and served on many other boards, including the Whiteside County Agricultural Extension Board, Public Aid Committee, Emergency Planning Committee, Emergency Telephone System Board, Tri-County Opportunities Council, Veterans Assistance Commission, and the United Counties Council of Illinois as president, past president, and treasurer of the executive committee for 15 years.

“If anybody needs an example of an ordinary guy making a big difference in peoples’ lives, they can just look to Tony Arduini,” said his nephew and fellow board member Jim Arduini, adding that he “was like a second father to me.”

Tony’s replacement will be appointed at the April board meeting. Like Arduini, he or she must be a Democrat. Chairman James Duffy will make the recommendation.

To attend

The Whiteside County Board next meets at 6:30 p.m. April 15 in the Whiteside County Courthouse. Go to and click on documents and forms for the agenda.

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