Cyril B. “Pete” Korte, one of Highland, Illinois’ most notable and well-liked citizens, died on September 26, 2023, at the age of 85. Pete Korte’s life was characterised by his unrelenting devotion to his family, his neighbourhood, and a successful business. He leaves behind a legacy that will be honoured for a long time as the President of Korte & Luitjohan Contractors, Inc.
At the St. Paul Catholic Church in Highland, Illinois, Pete Korte wed Jane E. Korte (née Luitjohan), beginning a lifelong journey of love and collaboration. Their enduring love and shared dedication to friends, family, and the community became Pete’s life’s pillar.
Janet Nicolaides, a close friend, and associate, beautifully captured Pete’s essence: “Pete was an incredible man. His legacy will live on forever through his wonderful family and all the kind deeds he did for so many, myself included. Keep your memories alive in your heart, and he will live on forever.”
Pete Korte’s impact extended far beyond his family and friends, touching the lives of countless individuals and organizations in the Highland area. One of the most notable contributions was his involvement with Camp Ondessonk, a cherished institution in the community.
Both Korte & Luitjohan Contractors, Inc., and Camp Ondessonk have deep roots dating back to the 1950s. In 1958, Pete Korte took the bold step of launching his construction company, Korte & Luitjohan Contractors, Inc. Just a year later, in 1959, the Catholic Diocese of Belleville opened Camp Ondessonk. Nestled on nearly 1,000 acres of pristine land, Camp Ondessonk offered children between the ages of 8 and 15 a summer camping experience unlike any other, featuring activities such as canoeing, archery, horseback riding, hiking, and rock climbing. Importantly, the camp warmly welcomed youth of all faiths to partake in the fun and adventure it offered.
Pete Korte’s deep connection with Camp Ondessonk became evident through the years, as K & L Contractors actively engaged in numerous projects to support the camp’s mission. These projects included the installation of two miles of water lines, the construction of a 3,200 square-foot shower house, and the creation of a remarkable 40-foot climbing wall. These contributions not only enhanced the camp’s infrastructure but also enriched the experiences of countless children who attended Camp Ondessonk.
Gregg Korte, President of Korte & Luitjohan Contractors, Inc., spoke eloquently about the family’s enduring relationship with Camp Ondessonk. He explained why the camp held a special place in their hearts: “Camp Ondessonk is a unique and special place for our family. It embodies the values Pete held dear – community, adventure, and the betterment of young lives. Through our company’s involvement, we aimed to strengthen the camp’s ability to provide these experiences to generations of children.”
Pete Korte’s legacy extends beyond his contributions to Camp Ondessonk. As President of Korte & Luitjohan Contractors, Inc., he oversaw a company that has been a pillar of the Highland community for decades. Under his leadership, the company has been responsible for numerous construction projects that have shaped the landscape of Highland and the surrounding areas.
Beyond his professional accomplishments, Pete Korte was known for his kindness, generosity, and unwavering commitment to giving back to the community that had been so good to him. He was a respected leader, not only in the construction industry but also in philanthropic endeavors. His dedication to improving the lives of others was evident in his involvement with local charities, schools, and civic organizations.
Pete Korte’s passing leaves a void in Highland that will be difficult to fill. However, his legacy of leadership, generosity, and community dedication will continue to inspire those who knew him and generations yet to come. His life serves as a testament to the positive impact one person can have on a community when driven by a passion for helping others and a commitment to making the world a better place.
As Highland and the surrounding communities come together to mourn the loss of Cyril B. “Pete” Korte, they also celebrate a life well-lived and a legacy that will endure for generations. His memory will live on in the hearts of those he touched, the projects he completed, and the lives he enriched through his dedication to family, community, and the betterment of all.