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Family, friends honor a lion at heart

SYCAMORE – If you don’t want to work, don’t be a Lion.

Eugene Listy had been the director of Sycamore Public Works for 40 years and a volunteer firefighter for more than 50 years. Although he always had worked with the Sycamore Lions Club on projects as a public works employee, he was about ready to retire when he joined as a Lion.

He didn’t stop working, and past Lions presidents remembered him as someone who would do whatever was asked.

“He would never not show up,” Ed Kuhn said Thursday. “He didn’t turn much down.”

Listy died Sept. 16 in the DeKalb County Rehab and Nursing Center following a pacemaker operation. He was 79 years old.

Jerry Malmassari, Sycamore Lions past president, said he had been talking to Listy earlier in the day. He stopped by to visit him in the center and spent a few hours talking to him. They made plans to ensure Listy could get to meetings when he was on his feet again, Malmassari offering to pick him up and take him.

A few hours later, he got the call that Listy had died.

Listy was always a part of the projects the Lions Club was doing. He was part of projects cleaning up the Great Western Trail.

Even before he was a Lion, in the early 1990s, Kuhn remembers Listy helped install handicapped accessible benches along the trail.

When he joined up in 2002, Listy quickly took over several committees and projects, said Ken Hirschbein, a past president of the Lions Club.

“He was a hard worker, and he knew what he was doing,” Malmassari said. “He was a good worker because he could do anything. … He was a willing worker.”

Each year Listy was a part of the Lions Fishing Derby in Shabbona park, helping organize and run the event.

Malmassari said the event is popular: more than 100 people with disabilities and their family would turn out for the activities, totaling about
500 people, he said. Listy was always there helping out, he said. He had a special connection.

Listy took his commitment to the club seriously – he was recognized in April of 2018 for 15 years of perfect attendance at the Sycamore Lions Club.

“If you’re going to do story on Gene, you have to do a story on Matt,” Kuhn said.

Matthew Listy was Gene Listy’s son. He graduated from Sycamore High School, worked at Brown’s County Market in Sycamore, and loved everything Sycamore, Malmassari said. He also was a person with disabilities. He went with Gene everywhere.

“They were attached at the hip,” he said.

Matt and Gene would be seen at Lions Club project sites often. He could be found with his dad at bike trail clean ups, and the annual Cookies with Santa event at the Sycamore Park District.

Matt died in November 2018.

Kuhn said, even in the last few years of Listy’s life, he would come work at Lion’s Club events and participate, even if it was just working a table at the entrance.

Hirschbein said Listy was dependable and helpful.

“He was always there. Always taking care of things,” Hirschbein said.

Listy is survived by his wife, Joyce; his daughter, Angela; special pet, Penny Marie; many nieces and nephews; three sisters-in-law; one brother-in-law; his fire family and numerous friends.

He is interred in the Elmwood Cemetery in Sycamore.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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