Ames recalled for community service, love of family
Those who served alongside Ames in his many public roles remember his insightful commentaries and his contributions to county government and Darien Township.
And those who share the Ames surname remember a solid role model proud of his family who taught them the importance of hard work, honesty and a good sense of humor when life gets tough.
Ames, 92, of W9157 Hwy 14, Darien, died Monday at Lakeland Health Care Center in Elkhorn.
“Growing up in a large family on a farm was quite a happy experience for all of us,” daughter Janice Berezowitz said. “He expected us to work hard, do well in school, but he also created opportunities for us to have a lot of fun along the way.”
Family members describe Ames as tough but gentle, tenacious, honest and hard working.
He was born in Mundelein, Ill., and married Isabelle Davidson in 1940. Ames moved to Darien in 1950, where he raised a family and farmed the rest of his life.
He was a father of nine, grandfather of 20 and great-grandfather of 20.
Ames was chairman of the Darien Town Board and served on the Walworth County Board from 1965 to 1976. He was appointed by three governors to the Southeast Regional Planning Commission and served 20 years.
“He’s been truly a gentleman from way back,” said 84-year-old Leland Allenstein, a veterinarian who has cared for Ames’ animals since the 1950s.
“In public office, he had a keen sense of admiration from all the people around him. He made a well-thought-out judgment of things.”
Concerned with the expansion of Mallard Ridge Landfill in the 1990s, Ames turned his alfalfa field into a registered airstrip because state laws prevented siting landfills near airports.
“He had concerns that in spite of all the care they were taking to line the landfill according to regulations that somewhere in the future some pollutants might leach into water supplies,” Berezowitz said.
The attempt failed, but family members remember the effort as an example of his involvement and care for the environment.
“When he believed in something, he would continue the fight to protect farmland, water, whatever he thought was in danger,” Berezowitz said.
The strip is located at Ames’ farm. He loved flying his J-3 Piper Cub. It was his hobby and relief after a stressful day of farming.
The Ames Holstein herd is recognized as one of the most successful homebred herds in the nation.
“I think that it was no doubt the best bred herd that I worked with in the 50 years that I worked,” Allenstein said.
Family and friends held funeral services Friday. They talked about what Ames taught them and how colorful he was.
“He will be missed,” said Allen Morrison, a Sharon farmer and former county supervisor. “He was concerned and always involved.
“We appreciate John, and we’ll miss him.”