Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation
Preserving Land — Now & Forever
Gordon and Marea McKeague, Conservation Visionaries
Gordon and Marea McKeague
Originally published Spring 2012, JDCF Newsletter
"As a boy growing up in Galena during the 1930s, Gordon McKeague was aware of the Great Depression's hardships. Yet young Gordy felt surrounded by riches beyond measure: the bountiful beauty of Jo Daviess County. Encouraged by his adventurous mother, an amateur naturalist, Gordon spent endless hours outdoors. He explored Horseshoe Mound, swam in Hughlett's Bottom, picnicked in Tapley Woods, and hiked past Pilot's Knob for a Boy Scout merit badge. Although his family would move to Chicago when he was 13, the natural beauty of northwest Illinois remained engraved in his heart and mind.
In March 2011, the McKeague family lost its beloved patriarch. Yet Gordon McKeague's legacy is indelibly preserved in oak-hickory forests, grasslands, dolomite cliffs and bird's eye primrose — a fitting legacy for the man who continually planted and nurtured ideas, goals and dreams.
"Dad especially loved trees," says his daughter, Susan. "He planted hundreds, selecting each sapling for its fruit, nuts, flowers, shade, or height. We teased, 'Why visit an arboretum when you can plant one?' but we cherish Dad's imprint on the land.
"Dad was a visionary. Like his trees, his philanthropy represents an extraordinary, thoughtful bequest to those he would never know. It's a gift to future generations that Mom will continue and we all should mirror. Qui Plantavit Curabit. He who has planted will preserve."