Note to readers: Barry Schraders DeKalb
County Life column will appear every other Tuesday.
When returning to live in DeKalb County seven years ago,
I was introduced to Shadow Gentry while having breakfast at the
Lincoln Inn. He gave me a high-five welcome, and we became instant
friends. Later I learned he has hundreds of instant friends and
probably more people know him than either of the mayors in Sycamore
While standing in the concession line at a recent Huskies football
game, I got a bear hug from behind. It was Shadow, who wanted
to share the news he had just been re-elected president of the
Kiwanis Aktion Club at Opportunity House, a service group for
developmentally disabled adults.
Talking with his mother, Marcia Gentry, I learned his middle
name really is Shadow. She said she
Shadow Gentry gives his familiar high five
greeting to Bob Shipman, executive director of Opportunity House
(Barry Schrader photo)
chose it because it had been his fathers nickname and she
wanted something unique, not just another common name. He never
uses his first name, so I wont even include it here. She
also confirmed the fact that Shadow has been this exuberant and
friendly with everyone he meets since he was a small boy.
After graduating from the special education program at DeKalb
High School, Shadow began work at Opportunity House in Sycamore,
which provides employment for adults with intellectual
or developmental disabilities. That was more than 20 years
ago, and he has thrived there, spending five days a week at his
job, except when he asks for time off to do community service.
Mike OBrien, a supervisor at Opportunity House and adviser
to the Aktion Club, says Shadow has been a great asset to the
He has been the biggest help of all our members,
said OBrien, and even went to the Kiwanis district conference
this year and told others how this service group works, encouraging
them to form Aktion clubs in their communities.
His pastor at First Baptist Church in Sycamore, the Rev.
Steve Persson, also expressed admiration for Shadow and his outreach
efforts, saying how personable he is with others. He has served
as an assistant in the childrens department and given the
announcements at their third service from time to time.
Shadows list of volunteer efforts runs the gamut
through both DeKalb and Sycamore, including all three area Kiwanis
clubs, working on floats and marching in the Sycamore Pumpkin
Festival parade for several years, including last week when he
was part of the Aventi Haunted House entry. Last year, he was
with the First Baptist Church float and Persson, who has been
in the community 38 years, said that more people knew Shadow
along the parade route than knew him.
Shadow told me last week he was president of the Aktion
Club the first time when it was formed back in 2003 and also
mentioned he has been a consistent participant in the Special
Olympics, taking part in basketball, softball and soccer. He
has traveled with the teams to state competitions and has his
share of medals.
Then he reminded me again he has read my book of columns
Hybrid Corn & Purebred People and wanted to know
when to expect another edition. He really knows how to make my