Countryside City Administrator Gail Paul (right) presents Fran Prokop with a certificate of achievement for her 30 years as recording secretary. (Photo by Steve Metsch) 

Countryside City Administrator Gail Paul (right) presents Fran Prokop with a certificate of achievement for her 30 years as recording secretary. (Photo by Steve Metsch) 

Countryside honors longtime recording secretary Fran Prokop

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By Steve Metsch 

For the past 30 years, Fran Prokop has been a constant at meetings of the Countryside City Council and other committees.

Prokop, who lives in a retirement community in Plainfield, was living in La Grange Highlands when she started as recording secretary in September 1993.

The city council at its Dec. 13 meeting honored her with a certificate of achievement.

Prokop got the gig shortly after Countryside began talking with the Pleasantdale Park District regarding the future of Maplecrest Golf Course.

The city and park district are co-owners of the renovated course now called Flagg Creek. Prokop was working as a recording secretary for the park district back then.

Former City Administrator Pat McDonald was so impressed by Prokop, he asked if she would become the city’s recording secretary in September 1993.

“The woman that had been doing the minutes was going back to school. That’s how I got started,” Prokop said.

Prokop retired from her full-time job 25 years ago, but has no plans to stop being the recording secretary.

“It’s very good for me. When I took this job, I was thinking of it for my retirement because I never planned to retire fully,” Prokop said.

She had been a court reporter and then worked for a judge for 16 years before she retired in 1999.

Asked her age, Prokop said with a laugh: “I don’t want that in there because they won’t keep me. I’m over 80. How’s that?”

“This is why I advocate for anyone who retires to keep working. Not full time, but to work part time and keep your interests up. It keeps me sharp. On my toes,” she said.

Prokop worked for “four different mayors and four or five different city administrators and four or five city clerks” over three decades.

The then deputy clerk Gail Bartelt would send Prokop tape recordings of meetings by express mail “wherever I was at.”

Prokop for nine years traveled extensively around the nation in a motor home. Yet, she would type up the meeting minutes and send them back to city hall the next day.

“Thank God for email or it never would have happened,” Prokop said.

Asked if she has any dislikes, she said, “sometimes things carry on too long.”

“Just last week, we had a planning and zoning meeting and it carried on for three and a half hours. But that was an exception.

“It happened because the two months prior, there were no meetings. Things were piling up,” Prokop said.

Several elected officials spoke highly of Prokop at the Dec. 13 meeting of the city council.

City Clerk Elizabeth Kmet said she never has problems with the meeting minutes reported by Prokop the following day.

“Thank you so much for your service and showing up for all those special meetings at the last minute,” Kmet said.

Mayor Sean McDermott thanked Prokop “for doing an outstanding job.”

“You’ll notice that we very rarely ever change the minutes,” he said. “We thank you for all your time, consideration and service to the city of Countryside.”

Kmet said “attention to detail” is the difference.

“She doesn’t let anything to get past her. She’s good. She catches things the average ear would not hear. She just knows it. She can anticipate things,” Kmet said.

You can expect to see Prokop when you attend a city council or committee meeting.

“I don’t ever intend to retire unless my health doesn’t permit me to work. I’ve been lucky in that regard,” she said. “I do enjoy it immensely.”

Any veterans who live in the area and are interested in doing an interview about their military service for the Veterans History project can call Countryside City Hall and leave their name and phone number and Prokop will reach out to them.

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