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A saintly mission: Pilsen sprucing up for Kapaun's return

Staff writer

The old gas station needed sprucing up for quite some time, but Father Emil Kapaun’s homecoming gave Fred Silhan a reason to give it a fresh coat of paint.

“It just needed it, period,” he said as he smoothed decals on the windows. “That is the nice thing about the Kapaun event. It gives us a deadline and something to shoot for to get it done.”

A small army of volunteers have been turning up to mow, pick up trash, paint the church, and clean.

Silhan turned his attention to Remington Rd. property owned family, picked up scrap metal, and tore out tangles of trumpet vines.

Silhan also tried to restore some of the station’s old-fashioned charm by putting up window decals that recall the buildings history as a Case tractor dealership and by painting the exterior slate blue.

“We rewired the lights,” he said. “My grandfather Frank would turn those on for special events like dances at the dance hall.”

Silhan is cleaning and rewiring vintage gas pumps he found in a garage, which he now uses as a shop to work on old cars. He plans to install them out front.

He would like to do more, but time is running short.

In the meantime, Silhan says he has watched volunteers put in hard work with admiration and gratitude.

“They have had a mower brigade going on for weeks now,” he said. “It’s been impressive to see the servant leadership. That’s living the values of Father Kapaun.”

Seeing the community pull together to welcome home its native son has inspired him.

“When you see people trying to make things better it’s good motivation to do something too,” he said.

Last modified Sept. 23, 2021

 

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