Honored citizens

Kodats selected as 2018 Carbon Hill grand marshals

Courtesy photo Courtesy photos THEY MET ON a blind date and have been together ever since. Phil Kodat grew up in Grundy County and while serving with the United States Army in Germany he met, fell in love with and married Karin. When his tour of duty ended, the couple came back to Grundy County and settled in Carbon Hill. As residents of the village they know volunteering is a duty of every citizen. Their service has gone above and beyond, and for that they are bring honored by their town as grand marshals of the annual Homecoming celebration.

PHIL AND KARIN Kodat have been selected by the village of Carbon Hill as its 2018 Homecoming grand marshals. In addition to leading this year’s Homecoming parade, the couple will he recognized by the Village Board at the start of the festival and again during a ceremony at the Carbon Hill School Museum on Sunday, June 24, beginning at 4 p.m.

     Phil Kodat was serving with the United States Army in Germany when he met Karin, a local girl, on a blind date.
    The two fell in love, married in her native Germany, and when his tour of duty ended he returned to the United States with his bride.
    A few years after returning to the states, Phil and Karin moved into a house on Fifth Avenue in Carbon Hill, and it’s been their home for 49 years.
    Out of the military, Phil went to work for Caterpillar, starting out in hydraulics and then moving to chrome plating, where he put chrome on cylinders. He was with the company for 30 years.
    While son Thomas was in school, Karin worked for the Tony Garment Factory. As she recalls, the women working there were experts and talked as they worked. Being the youngest in the factory, she wisely just listened.
    In 1979, she began a home business in ceramics and a few years later purchased an old school building in Coal City from Assumption Church. Located on the northwest corner of Kankakee and Carbon streets the building housed Karin’s Ceramics Shop until 2001.
    Now retired, Karin says she meant to do more ceramics at home, but after closing her shop she never put a paint brush in her hand again.
    With all the couple had going on in their lives—working, running a business and parenting—they still found time to be involved in their community. Both have served in municipal government, Phil as a village commissioner and Karin as the town clerk and treasurer.
    Among her duties was to keep the town books and oversee tickets and money for the annual Homecoming. For eight years she handled those duties, collecting the money and counting it each day of the festival.
    A highlight to her time in the village hall were visits from the late George Dare, who would stop by to chat during his daily bicycle rides.
    Over the years, the couple has taken on numerous responsibilities within the village and for the annual festival. It is in recognition of their service and dedication to the village of Carbon Hill that they are being honored by the Village Board as the 2018 Homecoming grand marshals.
    Karin’s involvement in the festival dates back to the late 1960s. She cannot forget the night she was working in the carnival ticket booth and received a call that her father had died.
    Phil’s contributions  can be seen around the park. As a member of the Park Committee he was charged with repairing and repainting the picnic tables,  painting the beer stand, re-roofing  the pavilion and setting the concrete around it.
    His wife took on the task of selling advertisements for the village’s Diamond Jubilee booklet and volunteered for a host of fundraisers when the town celebrated its centennial year.
    In addition to all of their work with the village, Karin also served as an original member of the Carbon Hill Woman’s Club.
    As the couple knows and understands, volunteering is a part of living in Carbon Hill.
    Phil and Karin continue to serve their community as elected Felix Township trustees.
    Even with all that is required of them in their elected positions, the couple continues to find time to enjoy retirement.
    Karin’s new hobby is quilting and Phil’s passions are yard work and gardening.  He makes wine from grapes grown on their property and the vegetables that come from his garden are staples on the dinner table.
    Over the years, the couple has built lifelong friendships and has lasting memories of their days in Carbon Hill.
    Homecoming is always a special time, they say. The fireworks and food, especially poorboys and corn dogs, are among their favorite things associated with the festival.
    It’s certain that this year’s festival will be added to that list. In addition to leading the annual Homecoming parade on Sunday, the couple will open the festival on Wednesday as they are honored by the Village Board. A special tribute and open house honoring the Kodats’ will be hosted by the Carbon Hill School Museum on Sunday, June 24, beginning at 4 p.m.
    Although a long way from where they first met and fell in love, the couple has no plans of living anywhere but Carbon Hill.
    And in their words, “we are happy about that.”

    Editor’s note: Michele Micetich, curator of the Carbon Hill School Museum, provided the information for this report.