Quintessential People

Patti and Jon Stickney: Their Quiet Kindness


by Melanie Kalmar | Photo: thomas balsamo

Patti and Jon Stickney enjoy connecting fellow Barrington residents, based on their talent, interests, and willingness to give back to local nonprofit organizations in need of assistance.

“We are only as strong as our weakest link,” says Jon, president of Barrington Bank & Trust Company, N.A. “This applies to our communities, as it does to business and team sports.” When he coached Barrington Youth Baseball and Football, he would tell his stronger players that if they help lift-up their struggling teammates, the entire team will improve. “It is the same for our communities and businesses,” he says.

From an early age, Jon and Patti—a homemaker since their three children were young—each learned how to give back by watching the selfless acts of kindness that came naturally to their parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. In turn, they chose to set the same example for their own children: Jon Charles, Jr. (J.C.), 28; Connor, 26; and Kelly, 23, who happily follow their parents lead by organizing their own fundraising efforts for a variety of causes.

“Time, treasure or talents…we all have something to give,” Jon says. “Technology and social media have made it easier for anybody to get involved with service and philanthropy.”

A Chance Meeting

Jon and Patti met while volunteering as Rush Counselors at the University of Iowa. “A mutual friend set us up on a blind date, a motorcycle ride on my Kawasaki 750,” Jon says. “We’ve been together ever since.” Married in 1987 at Saint Anne Catholic Church in Barrington, the couple made community service an even bigger part of their lives when Jon joined a local bank in 1992, the same year he became a Barrington volunteer firefighter.

“Jon would run out of the bank, put on his firefighting gear, and go out to a car wreck or fire,” Patti says. Five years later, he gave it up, when Kelly, at 18 months old, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. After that, they became a leading fundraising team for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s annual Walk to Cure Diabetes.

Rewarding Projects

Occasionally, when Patti is sitting on their back porch, she can hear what is going on inside Barrington High School’s stadium, thanks to its state-of-the-art speakers, and she can’t help but feel proud. The high school’s new stadium is the result of a 2008 project co-led by Jon and fellow members of the Barrington High School Horseshoe Club.

“It was the most rewarding project I have worked on in Barrington,” Jon says. “Our team—Scott Brown, Mary Kamps, Holly Madden, Rick Wokoun and I—raised over $1.2 million to pay for the field turf, scoreboard, bathrooms, press-box, and sound system. A huge thank you to the Wickstrom and Stephenson families for their leadership donations, which made it happen in 2008.”

As a Commissioner of the Barrington Park District, Jon participated in the development of Citizens Park, the redevelopment of Langendorf Park Fitness and Recreation Center, and partnered with the Barrington Junior Women’s Club on the recent addition of an ADA-accessible Splashpad.

For two of the eight years he served on the Barrington 220 Educational Foundation, Jon was chairman of the board. His team funded the start-up of Barrington High School TV and Project Lead the Way, among other worthy programs.

Patti has lent her talents to the Hough Street School PTO and Barrington High School Volunteer-QB Club and 238 Studio. She has also served as a founding member of the Barrington High School Alumni Association, an officer of the Garden Club of Barrington, past president of the Women’s Club at Saint Anne Church, and a member of the Junior League Club of Chicago.

In September, Jon and Patti participated in the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride—a fundraising motorcycle ride through Chicago—for the Movember Foundation, an organization that raises awareness about men’s health issues. “It’s so fun to combine your hobby and pastime to support a worthy cause,” he says.

Planting the Seeds of Volunteerism

Jon grew up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in the 1960s and 1970s, during a time when homeless men road the rails and passed through town. “They were called hobos,” he says. “They wore colorful hats and carried a knapsack at the end of a stick, like characters out of a movie.” They would show up hungry at the back door of the restaurant his paternal grandparents owned, the door that opened to the kitchen, and quietly, his grandparents would serve them a meal. “It was that way for decades,” he says. “Giving back was a way of life.” It was the same way on his mother’s side of the family. Twice, his grandmother Leona was recognized as “Senior Volunteer of the Year” at Saint Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids. Widowed at a young age, she volunteered well into her 90s and lived to 102.

Patti grew up in a traditional philanthropic environment. Born in the Beverly neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, she moved with her family to Des Moines while in grade school, and Barrington during middle school. Her father owned an executive search firm in the Barrington Ice House Mall, until his retirement in the 1990s; her mother was an avid volunteer.

“My mother became involved with what is now Barrington Youth and Family Services, and she was on the board of the Barrington Arts Council and the Junior League, an organization she influenced me to join,” Patti says. “We often would take shifts volunteering at Art in the Barn.”

“I wasn’t raised in organized volunteerism,” Jon says. “It was all new to me. But it becomes second nature if you live here. Barrington has a deep volunteer-pool. The culture is alive and well.”

Melanie Kalmar is a freelance writer specializing in human interest and business features. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with her family.

Here are some words that others shared about Patti and Jon Stickney.

Rick and Cindy Doering, Friends

We first met Jon in the banking industry in 1987 when we purchased our land on Kelsey Road for Doering Landscape. Patti invited us to be a part of their fundraising for Juvenile Diabetes when their daughter Kelly was diagnosed as a toddler. Our families grew and we reconnected when our boys were playing football at BHS. Rick serves on the BHS varsity football chain gang on Friday nights during the fall with Jon.

As couples, we share the love of playing golf and riding our Harley’s. As alumni of Iowa; Patti and Jon cheer for the Iowa Hawkeyes. We too share that interest as two of our children are Iowa graduates; Kelly and Dan. Their Kelly is attending Iowa now.

Patti and Jon are always inclusive and engaging when they spend time with their friends. They are sincere, loyal, and fun. They love being around people of all walks of life and have wonderful friends all over the country. Their energy is contagious and they always see the glass half full as they enjoy life to its fullest!

Kim Duchossois, Friend

Patti and Jon make a significant impact on our town. They are exemplary community members... as engaged parents, volunteers, neighbors, and ever civic-minded leaders.

Although residing together in the Barrington area for some time, I hadn’t the privilege of knowing much early history about the Stickney’s, save for the insight from our mutual friend, Mitchell Kelly, Clinical Professor of Educational Psychology at University of Iowa, where he and his wife, Janine, met Jon and Patti. I felt Dr. Kelly’s perspective on the QB couple might be refreshing:

The Stickneys are a great couple who obviously love each other. Their kids are a testament to their love. Each uniquely independent, but at the same time, a strong family. Given challenges, they bond together and figure out a way. They are also extremely loyal friends. If Jon needed a kidney, and I was a perfect match, I might consider thinking about donating one to him. Janine says she loves Patti; and loved working with her daughter Kelly at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. It felt like things came full circle with Janine, a physical therapist, helping Kelly in Iowa and Patti helping our daughter, Shannon while she was working in Chicago and residing in Barrington. Heartfelt congratulations from all of us Patti and Jon!

Mindi Green, Friend

I met Jon and Patti in 1994 at the Scottsdale home of mutual friends. When my husband and I moved to Barrington a few years later, they welcomed us into the village community where we lived then and raised our two children. Throughout the years, our group of friends went through many ups and downs, as all parents do. One hardship that Jon and Patti experienced was the diagnosis of their daughter Kelly, with juvenile diabetes. At the time, none of us knew much about type 1 diabetes. When this happened, Jon and Patti became passionate about educating themselves and others about diabetes. They hosted and attended countless fundraisers, as well as supported many local families whose children were diagnosed with type 1. They’ve always made themselves available, day or night, to talk and listen to anyone who is going through this ordeal with their child. In keeping with the spirit of having fun while giving back, Jon and Patti recently combined another passion, motorcycle touring, with raising money for men’s mental health and prostate cancer. Over the years, it’s been heartening to watch Jon and Patti’s determination to leave their community better than they found it, and to have a lot of fun while doing it!

Dr. Brian Harris, Superintendent of Schools

Jon and Patti Stickney have been true community partners and supporters of Barrington 220. They each have donated countless hours of time and service to enhance our schools in the community. As each of their children attended our schools, they volunteered time and effort through our PTOs and booster programs at each school. They were both one of the first parents to volunteer when assistance is needed.

Specifically, I want to thank Jon for his ongoing service to the enhancement of the stadium at BHS. Back in 2007, he organized a group of local businesses to donate advertising funds to implement a high-end scoreboard and artificial turf in the stadium along with supporting a bond referendum to improve the stadium infrastructure. Just this past summer, those original agreements expired and Jon worked with the school board and me, to once again secure those funds from local businesses. Jon came through again and due to his efforts, we were able to replace the scoreboard and make additional improvements to the Barrington High School stadium. Jon also is the team leader of our Football “Chain Gang” on Friday nights, and works the First Down markers on the sidelines. We are very lucky to have Jon and Patti Stickney in our community!

Rev. Al Johnson, Friend

One of the best decisions in the life of Jon and Patti Stickney was the day he left another bank and became a part of Barrington Bank & Trust. This act deepened his commitment to our community as exhibited by their continuous efforts to support many local causes. Of course, their exceptional support of JDA for the benefit of their daughter for sure, but also for all who suffer from this disease became a further rallying point for our Barrington. Every time I turn around there is another project that Jon, Patti, and Wintrust is helping to bring to fruition including our wonderful BHS fields. We’ve all been here a long time and have enjoyed a deepening friendship. When Jon and Patti celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary with a family meal at The Bread Basket, they asked if I would come by and offer a blessing. That was a first and a deep gift. That which we desire we receive by giving to others. I’m not sure if Jon and Patti desire my appreciation, but they have that and my love for who they are and what they continuously do to help others.

Penny Kazmier, Friend

Jon and Patti are the “Mr. & Mrs. Barrington” of my generation. They have entrenched themselves in our community with sights on making it a better place. They have served in so many different capacities it is difficult to single out their greatest accomplishment, but Jon’s leadership with the Friends of the Stadium has to be toward the top of the list. Roughly 10 years ago, Jon, along with his committee, raised over $1 million dollars to provide enhancements to the newly-built BHS Stadium. We have Jon to thank for upgrades like field turf, the original video score board, and indoor restrooms. Most recently, Jon helped to raise another $600,000 to replace the old scoreboard and sound system. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this is just one of the couple’s passions, as they seem to appear and participate in every community group around.

Jon and Patti are frequently seen all dressed up at an event, but it strikes me their favorite clothes are much more casual, likely jeans and boots, and there is no place they’d rather be than with their family, or near the Mississippi River on a boat or motorcycle. They work hard, play hard, and enjoy every minute of life. They are fun to be around, and I am honored to call them my friends.

Janet & Larry Magee, Friends

We met Patti and Jon when our sons, JC and Cameron, became friends in 7th grade. That was 16 years ago, and we feel like we’ve been friends for a lifetime. Not only were our sons best friends, all of our children considered each other to be best friends and family. We spent many hours and days with Patti and Jon sitting at travel baseball games, University of Iowa tailgates, Turkey Bowl, and just hanging out. That time together made us really appreciate their love and dedication to the Barrington community. Since we had made many corporate moves over the years, it was the first time that we really felt a part of a community and we owe a lot of it to them. They love Barrington and would do anything to make it a better place to live. We are in awe as to all of the time they dedicate to causes that affect their family and the people in their community and surrounding areas. They are truly a loving and giving couple and we are proud to have them as friends.

Clyde Patterson, Friend

In the movies, the small-town banker is generally a person universally trusted by all, the man who knows everyone by name, who knows what is going on in others’ families, who even has come to the rescue when a family has experienced tough and debilitating luck. In the film, his wife is beautiful, convivial, a volunteer in community events par excellence, a renowned cook, and a fairly dangerous driver. Who says life isn’t like the movies?

It has been one of my life pleasures to know Patti and Jon Stickney for many, many years. My beautiful wife, Cindie, grew up in Barrington like Patti did. Jon and I contemplate the good fortune all the time of our splendid spouses and their insistence that Barrington was where our families would put down roots. We met when we were both starting our families and lived within a few blocks of one another.

Philanthropy in Barrington would be remiss without these two tireless contributors to so many charitable and worthy organizations. Like most of us, they have turned a few of life’s personal challenges into a commitment to help others. And they generally do so behind the scenes. No spotlight stealers here: their quiet kindness seems to speak for them. This recognition for them will, I believe, make them squirm a little bit. But it is certainly deserved.

Judy and Brad Stetson, Friends

Judy and I became acquainted with Patti and Jon soon after Jon joined Barrington Bank & Trust in June of 2000. Individually, and as a couple, Patti and Jon have unselfishly invested their time and passion in assuring that the residents of this community have, if not the best, some of the very best in school and park district facilities and parks. Jon is presently a Park Board Commissioner; and Jon’s knowledge, initiative, and relentless pursuit and interest in supporting the Stadium referendum in 2007 included engaging the local community, interested organizations and corporations in raising substantial funding to further enhance the upgrades to the stadium, the scoreboard and the playing field including new turf. Partnering the district funding with the local contributions turned the stadium facility into a programming venue to be used and shared by “all” of the community. Jon and Patti’s commitment and dedication to the well-being of the people of Barrington is clearly visible in our schools and our parks.

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Publisher’s Note: Quintessential People™ is a heartfelt collaboration between our publication and portrait artist Thomas Balsamo. Our goal is to share exceptional images and words that ring true about some of the finest, most inspiring people in our community. For more information, contact QB at publisher@qbarrington.com, or Thomas Balsamo (Portraits By Thomas) at 847-381-7710, or visit www.portraitsbythomas.com.