Jim Kiser named 2018 Darien Citizen of the Year
As the Citizen of the Year Committee rang the doorbell of our nominee’s home, the first thing that came to our honoree’s mind was…”what crazy people could possibly be at the door on this cold, cold evening?” Our nominee’s first response was, “I have heard about doorbells ringing around this time of year but never thought it would be mine." Without exaggeration, our nominee, Jim Kiser, is someone who is there for anything, anytime and most importantly for anyone.
Over the years in the multiple nominations Jim has received, they all state his diversity of giving of his time to all organizations, clubs and people both young and old is astounding. It is very hard to find a beginning timeline for Jim—he has been “doing” for so many years. Jim’s dedication to his parish, Our Lady of Peace, spans over 21 years. He served as a Religious Education Instructor from 2002 to 2012 helping grade school children prepare for their upcoming sacraments. He was a member of the church’s parish council for a year and since 2005 has been a member of the Holy Name Society serving as a board member numerous times. He is the first to volunteer for any major fundraising activity the parish embarks on.
His greatest giving by far is to the Darien Lions Club. Jim became a member of the Lions Club in 1997. From his license plate to his email address to his actions, he is Mr. Lion. He has held all 12 positions on the Board of Directors and served as president from 2013 to 2014. He has chaired nearly all of the 30 committees—it is easier to count those he hasn’t chaired than to name all that he has. His major contributions were heading up the following: the 2001 4th of July Parade; in 2009, the Darienfest Beer Tent; in 2005 and 2008 the Darienfest Corn tent; in 2002, Candy Day; the Children’s Halloween Party in 1999; the pancake breakfast in 2006; the Big Raffle in 1999 and the Golf Outing in 2011. He also led the Candy Day business from 2001 to 2008. He not only lends his helping hands to the Darien Lions Club but seeks out the needs of the Downers Grove and Westmont clubs. Jim has brought recognition to Darien by serving and participation in Regional and International Lions activities. He has taken on the role as the District 1J Zone Chair for the Southeast Region, he has chaired the State’s “Alert” program and in 2017 was chair of recruiting high school marching bands to participateing in the Lions International Parade in Chicago. In 2007, he also was an active member for the 90th International Lions Anniversary Committee. For his work in Lionism, Jim has been recognized by the Darien Lions and District 1J with the following awards and recognitions:
2003—Lions of Illinois Foundation Award; 2004–2005—Darien Lion of the Year; 2005—Darien Lions of Illinois Foundation Fellow; 2011—District 1J George Lazansky Award; 2016—Darien Lions Lifetime Achievement Award and Melvin Jones Fellowship Recipient.
And his favorite Lion activity?—flipping pancakes!
Jim’s volunteering doesn’t stop there. For over 15 years, he has enjoyed helping the Easter Bunny, the Lions Club and the Darien Park District hiding Easter eggs for the annual Easter Egg Hunt. Annually, Jim has assisted the city’s Chamber of Commerce in planning and setting up for Darienfest. He has also been instrumental working on the safety committee for the Darien Dash. In 2009, Jim received the Darien Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Citizen Award. For the last six years, Jim has served the City of Darien as a member of the Holiday Lights Committee. Along with his two other committee members, they locate the nominated homes. Jim is the navigator and photographer. He sets up the pictures on a visual display board for the city council and citizens to view. He loves being on this committee and decorating his own home for the holidays!
Each year without fail Jim heads out to Lisle with several other Lion members to assist Giant Steps, a school for autistic children, with their annual spring barbeque and again in the fall for their welcome back spaghetti dinner. From a food server to assisting with the silent auction, Jim is a great supporter of this organization. From 2004 to 2012, Jim also assisted the Hinsdale High School Booster Club at the concessions stands during athletic events. Jim is a steady donor of blood and platelets to the LifeSource Blood services center. He has given 49 times and still counting! When the need is there, so is Jim.
In 1987, he and his wife Carrie were married and became homeowners in the Hinswood Patio Homes subdivision. Jim served several years on the Homeowners Board of Directors. In 1993, they moved to their present home on 73rd St. They have two children, Thomas and Katelyn. Tom and Katelyn learned the importance of giving as they regularly volunteered right alongside their father. Jim supported his children in many of their activities, including what Jim calls becoming a “baseball Dad”.
One of his nominators states: Jim’s efforts to serve others are synonymous with our city motto, “A Nice Place to Live”, as well as the Darien Lions Motto, “We Serve”. No one embodies the spirit of those mottos more than Jim Kiser, whose interests have always been dedicated to unselfishly serving others in and outside the community.
William Barclay stated: “There are two great days in a person’s life: The day we are born and the day we discover why.”
Indeed, Jim has found the “whys” in life, and Darien is proud to be just one the benefactors.