CRYSTAL LAKE – William Fetzner's career at Crystal Lake School District 47 started out of a crisis and ended in a legacy that will be difficult to match.
Standing in the middle of the building that will carry Fetzner's name, former District 47 superintendent Bob Blazier recalled the day he hired Fetzner. A young teacher in the industrial arts department was a bit undisciplined, Blazier said, and he had no choice but to let him go as he could not trust the teacher in a classroom full of saws and tools.
Blazier did not know Fetzner, but was impressed with the application and hired him in a decision he would never regret.
"It was amazing in a matter of days it was like this other guy had never been there,"Blazier said of Fetzner's immediate influence. "He just never stopped."
Blazier was one of more than 100 community members, friends, family and former board members who attended the naming ceremony for the new William Fetzner Operations Center at 221 Liberty Road.
Fetzner, who served more than 40 years in District 47, was the youngest principal ever hired at the time he took over at South Elementary in 1978. He later retired in 2005 as assistant superintendent of operations, overseeing the construction of three elementary schools and a middle school.
"His handprints are literally on every building in this district," said Jeff Mason, board president of District 47. "Bill had a huge heart and his heart was for the children in this district."
The new operations center will house the district warehouse, curriculum storage, maintenance staff, print shop, food service and operations management.
Rob Fetzner, son of William Fetzner and current District 47 board member, said the building name was a fitting way to keep his father's legacy alive and a touching gesture from the community, which overwhelmingly submitted William Fetzner's name during the naming selection process. William Fetzner died in 2011.
"All of you have mentioned the impact he had on you but I also want you to realize all of you had an impact on him," Rob Fetzner told the crowd. "I want to thank you for this great honor. My family is excited and I really appreciate my dad's memory being kept alive."