Palos Park Commissioner G. Darryl Reed is running for the council again despite health issues. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)
Despite serious health woes, Reed ready to keep serving for Palos Park
By Jeff Vorva
G. Darryl Reed knows his time on Earth could be short.
He gets it.
He doesn’t like it. But he gets it.
The Palos Park commissioner has been dealing with intestinal failure for the past two years and his doctors have not been sugarcoating it.
Reed, a former Marine and lawyer, is not sugarcoating it either.
“Nothing inside works anymore,” Reed said. “I can’t ingest orally any liquids or solids and it’s been that way for two years. There is no cure for it. The stomach is partially paralyzed.
“I will ultimately meet my demise from malnutrition or infection. As you can see, I weigh 130 pounds, man. The doctor told me medical science has not caught up with my body. He says, ‘Look, it’s not going to get any better. So, we’re not going to pretend that it will.’’’
His ordeal is teaching him a lot of things.
“They say, ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,’’’ Reed said. “But I think that ‘what doesn’t kill you doesn’t kill you.’
“We’re trying to make life livable but there is nothing else we can do.”
The 65-year-old Reed is on a specialized pump 15 hours a day that “depletes you and makes you feel like crap.”
The idea was that after his third term expires this spring, he would be done with village council. He announced that at a meeting in December 2021.
So, a year later — this past December — when he filed the paperwork to run for four more years, it caught some by surprise. Reed, Dan Polk, Mike Wade and newcomer Rebecca Petan are running unopposed for the four commissioners’ spots.
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is giving up her spot on the council to run for mayor as John Mahoney is retiring after this term. Milovich-Walters will be opposed by Ronette Leal McCarthy.
Reed said he changed his mind when Milovich-Walters asked him to stay on the council because she needed his help.
“I had no doubt in my mind that I wasn’t going to run, and I publicly made that proclamation a number of times,” Reed said. “I was dead set on that. I wanted a few years to try to get well.
“All of a sudden, once I got word that Nicole was thinking about running for mayor. She reached out to me and said ‘Darryl, I need you. Just give it whatever you got.’ You know, I’m not a politician, I’m a public servant. When somebody asks you to serve, I want to help her succeed, whether it’s one year, two years whatever I’ve got. I promised I would give it to her.”
If McCarthy wins, Reed said he will not serve but he was quick to point out that he has no criticism with her, but he was being loyal to his longtime friend and peer on the council, whom he calls “Nikki.”
“My commitment is Nicole and the village – I don’t know the young lady [McCarthy]. I don’t know her personally,” Reed said. “She may be good people and it’s no blast against her, but if you don’t know, you don’t know. I’ve known Nicole a long time. It’s Nikki, you know? You have to help people out who want your help.”
“We were put here to help people. I come from the old age when something like that was real. We were put on Earth to help people. This is what we do. We help others.”
Milovich-Waters said if she’s elected, she wants Reed on the council for as long as his health allows it – even if it’s not for a full four-year term.
“He’s the best,” she said. “He has a brilliant mind. I’ve been honored to learn from him.”
Reed likes the makeup of the board, but he is surprised, and a little disappointed, more young people did not run for commissioner spots.
“We’re old geezers and you would think the younger folks would be champing at the bit to take over the reins and maybe go in the direction that the younger people want to go,” he said. “No one stepped up and I don’t know if it’s that they are happy with what we are doing, or they just have other obligations and don’t have the time.
“The village needs somebody that knows what’s going on. I gotta serve. I took an oath. I’m a firm believer that if you put your hand up and say you are going to help, you have to stand for something. Nicole asked for help and here I am. I’ll do what I can and hopefully hand over the reins to one of these younger folks.”
Despite the health issues, Reed assures residents that he is still up for the task.
“My tank is almost empty, but I’ll give you what I’ve got,” he said.
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