Fort Payne DAR—This Local Chapter Facilitates Community Awareness for Honoring Our Veterans

July 2017 View more

If you drive down Washington Street you might notice a statue on the corner of Van Buren Avenue, Veterans’ Valor, that honors five men from Naperville who served in World War II. If you take a closer look, you’ll notice beautiful splashes of nature’s color on both sides of the statue. Lynne DeConti, regent of Naperville’s Fort Payne Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Chapter is responsible for those tulips. She started an “Adopt-A-Park” committee with the park district in 2015 to enhance two historic areas: Veteran’s Valor in Central Park, and Pioneer Park further south on Washington Street.

DeConti is passionate about educating our community regarding the history of American patriotism, and preserving that legacy for future generations. “These are the men and women who fought for our freedom. They each served, in some way, to stand for, protect and preserve our American heritage. We should never lose sight of the fact they sacrificed so much so that we can have continuing hope for freedom and peace.”

Naperville foundation

Moving from Hawaii to Naperville in 1978—when its population was just 37,500—DeConti and her husband Vince raised five children here until 1992, when Vince accepted a position with AIG in New York. The family spent over a decade in New Jersey, but moved back home to Naperville in 2006. By that time the population had grown to 140,000, but DeConti’s family roots, as well as those of the city, played a role in her future.

“My family has always been interested in history and preserving the records of our genealogy,” DeConti shares. “When I was expecting our first child, my grandfather, Roger Webster, studied our ancestry and answered my questions. His daughter, my Aunt Katharine May Webster, was a member of DAR since the late 1970s in a northern California chapter. She encouraged me to join DAR.”

After raising her family, DeConti continued to think about her Aunt Katharine’s suggestion and decided the time was right. DAR membership eligibility requires proof of a lineal, blood-line descent from an ancestor who aided in achieving American independence. Her relative was Patriot Colonial John Webster who served in the Revolutionary War in 1776. DeConti’s first American ancestor is Thomas Webster, a Scotland native who settled in Hampton, New Hampshire in 1636.

Connecting the past to the present

Today, the Fort Payne DAR chapter enhances local patriotism and historic preservation through the work of several committees, such as Constitution Week, Service for Veterans, Genealogical Records, National Defense and Lineage Research.

DeConti’s favorite programs include the American History Essay Contest, the the Vera Walz Scholarship and the DAR Good Citizen Award. “I love reading the student essays; it’s very gratifying to see the students’ participation.”

In fact, this year’s Fort Payne DAR Good Citizen chapter winner, Neuqua Valley High School graduate Alexander Shura (shown below with Illinois State Officers Club President Carolyn Berning and Lynne Deconti), went on to win district, state, division and national awards for his essay. His $7,000 scholarship will be used for tuition at the University of Chicago in the fall. “The Fort Payne Chapter,” DeConti says, “is indeed proud to have sponsored such a distinguished Good Citizen recipient!”

Do you have a Revolutionary War patriot in your family? The Fort Payne chapter would happily help trace your genealogical records; contact Stephanie Lyons-Olsen at 630.561.7116.