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Local News

Brent Wadsworth, local philantropist and founder of golf construction business, dies

Brent Wadsworth speaks June 17, 2014, after being inducted in the Joliet Area Sports Hall of Fame at Silver Cross Field in Joliet. Wadsworth died Tuesday at the age of 88.
Brent Wadsworth speaks June 17, 2014, after being inducted in the Joliet Area Sports Hall of Fame at Silver Cross Field in Joliet. Wadsworth died Tuesday at the age of 88.

PLAINFIELD – Brent Wadsworth, founder of the Wadsworth Golf Construction Co. and philanthropist for numerous local institutions and causes, has died.

Wadsworth, 88, died Tuesday at his home in Yorkville.

His company, which is based in Plainfield, has built or restored more than 900 golf courses, mostly in the U.S.

Local courses include the construction of the Wedgewood Golf Course in Joliet in 1968, the Heritage Bluffs Public Golf Club in Channahon in 1992, and the Prairie Bluff Public Golf Club in Lockport in 1997.

Wadsworth formed the company in 1958.

Locally, he may be even better known for his contributions to local institutions and causes.

Mark Turk, longtime president of the Joliet Township High School Foundation, said Wadsworth once called him and said he wanted to write a check to the foundation, and they arranged a meeting.

“I was expecting $100,” Turk said. “He handed me the check, and I just about fell over because it was a $25,000 check.”

Turk called Wadsworth “a great mentor.”

“He wanted to help anybody in any way he could – not just monetarily but with vision,” he said. “The world’s going to miss someone like Brent. There are very few people like him.”

Wadsworth was the major benefactor for the Rialto Square Theatre, said Lynne Lichtenauer, a board member for the theater’s foundation who first met Wadsworth when she was the Rialto’s director of development in 1985. She also was former president of the Joliet Township High School Alumni Association, where Lichtenauer regularly worked with Wadsworth on reunions for his Class of 1947.

“He never liked the spotlight,” Lichtenauer said. But Wadsworth joined the reunion committee every five years when the Class of 1947 got back together.

“He remained very close to all of his classmates,” she said.

Wadsworth attended Farragut Elementary School, where a park is named after him. He is a donor to the Joliet Grade Schools Foundation for Educational Excellence. He set up the Brenton Wadsworth Scholarship Fund that helps Joliet grade school students.

In 2014, Wadsworth was inducted into the Joliet Sports Hall of Fame in recognition of the hundreds of golf courses his company has built.

He was a graduate of the University of Illinois School of Landscape Architecture and went to work for the Robert Bruce Harris golf course architectural firm before serving in the U.S. Air Force from 1952 to 1954.

He is survived by his wife, Jean. They married in 1954. They had four children, all of whom survive.

Visitation will be from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Overman-Jones Funeral Home, located at 15219 S. Joliet Road. Visitation will continue at 2 p.m. Sunday at Trinity United Methodist Church, 2505 Boomer Lane, Yorkville, where funeral services will be at 3 p.m.

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