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Carole Binder Remembered for Her Faith, Love for Family, Community & Country

Updated: Oct 1, 2023

Village of Orland Park Recreation Department Pioneer Remembered

ORLAND PARK, IL (September 30, 2023) – Carole Rodda Binder is remembered for her faith, her love for her family and friends, the Orland Park community and the country. Binder lost a brief battle with cancer on September 5, 2023. She was 73.

The longtime companion of Bruce Cooper was born in Jackson Hole, Wyoming to Rosemarie Hubert and Don Rodda. After a move to Ohio, the Rodda family moved to Orland Park in the early 1960s.

“My mom and her sisters all went to Orland Park School and then to Carl Sandburg High School. She worked at The Grand Coffee Shop in the early 1970s, where the Mobil Gas Station is now at 143rd Street and LaGrange Road,” said Sherry Wright, the oldest of Binder’s three daughters.

Carole Rodda Binder

Binder joined the Village of Orland Park Recreation Department in 1978 and served for more than 20 years, retiring as a program supervisor in 2000.

Former Recreation Director Patricia Frantz recalled submitting the first budget for the village’s Recreation Department in 1972 and hiring Binder to teach pre-school in 1978.

“Carole’s musical talent was something the department was lacking,” Frantz said. “She incorporated her talents into her classes and to remain with the department, Carole began driving the neighborhood rec-mobile during the summer.”

Binder later represented the Village of Orland Park Recreation and Parks Department when she sang the national anthem at Chicago White Sox and Chicago Bulls games.

Frantz remembered, “Carole would never say, ‘That’s not in my job description’.” “She always had a positive attitude and was a great addition to the department.”

“And, although I left the department more than 40 years ago, Carole and I remained friends through the remainder of her life. I will definitely miss her,” Frantz said.

Bruce Cooper and Carole Binder

Binder is credited with bringing a number of programs to Orland Park during her 22 years of service to the village.

Penny O’Sullivan Maragia served as an Orland Park village trustee in the 1980s, chairing the village’s Recreation and Parks Committee for many of those years. “Carole Binder was a gift and a blessing for recreation in Orland Park,” Maragia said. “Her talents and brilliant strategies brought the village’s recreation programs to a higher level of excellence.”

Maragia recalled Binder’s creation of Orland Park’s Safety Town, a miniature community through which pre-schoolers would travel on Big Wheels and learn neighborhood safety.

“One of Carole’s many programs that stands out to me was her creating Safety Town,” Maragia said. “She created it so kids would have fun as they learned.”

“Besides her girls, Orland Park’s recreation programs were Carole’s priority for all ages,” Maragia said. “She was always coming up with new ideas, new programs and new events. Her talents and love for Orland Park shined with everything she did.”

Carole Binder with her daughters and their families

“Carole hired me in the 90s and I worked for her for more than 11 years,” said Tracy Clark who worked for the village’s Recreation and Parks Department. “She must have had a great deal of faith in me because I taught many courses, including soccer, Safety Town, cooking, dancing and pre-school.”

“Carole became one of my best friends – not only from working with her but having spent so much time with her as she brought me along with her many activities, camping, playing softball, volleyball and on dart leagues. She was with me in the best times of my life."


"I loved her sense of adventure, her sense of justice and forgiveness, and her sense of never living afraid of what was ahead of her."

Sherry Binder Wright


“Carole Binder was a mainstay in the Recreation and Parks Department when I joined the village in 1996,” said retired Director of Parks Frank Stec who left the village in 2015. “She was the real deal – always smiling and willing to help. She was fun to work with and fun to be around.”

Binder is credited with initiating many of the village’s recreation programs including acting, arts and crafts, cultural arts, computer lessons, dance, gardening, gymnastics, music lessons, senior events, league sports, teen and senior trips and the village's theater program.

“My mom was always proud of all of her programs, especially pre-school, the Orland Park Theatre Troupe, Safety Town, After School Pals and the Summer Entertainment Series, the village’s first outdoor concerts,” said Cary Stonehouse, Binder’s daughter.

It was Binder who initiated the original Taste of Orland Park in the 1980s with a handful of local restaurants at the John Humphrey Sports Complex.

She is also credited with transforming the Recreation Department’s Xeroxed paper program guides into an award winning professionally printed publication.

Their mother’s devotion to the department’s program guide is a large part of the girls’ memories.

“I remember my mom spending countless hours for days at a time, laying out the pages for the recreation brochure,” daughter Sherry said. “She would lay out the pages all over the house and work on them on her own time,” daughter Cary recalled. “She would do the old school cut and paste on each page using pictures from past events to advertise the upcoming events. She gave me my work ethic, that’s for sure.”

Binder’s youngest daughter, Jennifer, added, “I remember the Recreation Department’s beauty pageants, painting Safety Town, sorting stinky football jerseys for the Pioneers, the Big Wheel Rallies, the Sidewalk Chalk Art Contests near Randy’s Market in the Orland Plaza.”

“They turned the lower level of the Robert Davidson Center into a haunted house with Casper the friendly ghost as the main character,” Budrick added.

The youngest Binder daughter worked for the After School Pals Program where she met her future husband, Tim Budrick, who was working as a building supervisor and basketball coach.

Carole Binder (front row) represented the Village of Orland Park on the multi-agency, national award winning CART/LAAP Committee.

Binder represented the Village of Orland Park on the national award-winning CART/LAAP Committee (Combined Agencies to Reduce Trauma/Local Alcohol Awareness Program). This cooperative effort among first responders and municipalities was created to educate the public on the hazards of drinking and driving and the importance of safety belt use.

The group won regional, state and national awards for its innovative public awareness efforts that included the 1990 production of the 30-minute docudrama, “Shattered Lives – Shattered Dreams” in which Binder and her daughter, Cary, portrayed victims of a drunk driver.

“Some of my most cherished village memories are from the time I spent with Carole Binder and the CART/LAAP Committee,” said Margie Owens-Klotz who retired from overseeing the village’s public relations in 2019.

Binder and Owens-Klotz, along with then Orland Park Police Investigators Bob Reilly and Jerry Hughes, represented the Village of Orland Park on the committee, working with personnel from area fire departments, hospitals and public awareness agencies.

“Carole Binder will forever be one of my favorite village people and one of my dearest friends,” Owens-Klotz said.

“What a legacy she leaves behind - both with her amazing family and the Orland Park community. She was an innovator – a trail blazer – when it came to recreation programs and events."

“And, she was so very proud of her girls, their families, her eight grandkids and her seven great grandchildren. Her entire face would light up every time she talked about her family. She was their ‘Grandy’ and they made her life so very grand."

Binder's work with the village was recognized by the Crisis Center for South Suburbia, the National Park and Recreation Association, the Illinois Park and Recreation Association, the Orland Park Girl Scout Association, Consolidated High School District 230, South Cook County Girl Scouts and the Village of Orland Park Board of Trustees.

Carole Binder was a woman of faith, oftentimes telling friends and family, “Let go and let God.”


“She loved us girls enough to be tough but loving, hard but soft and understanding enough to love and help but not enable. She shared love easily and deeply."

Cary Binder Stonehouse


“We were raised on scripture and faith - not necessarily church and rules,” Sherry Wright explained. “It was about relationship with God, not just knowing of His existence. We were taught to be the Jesus that people would meet in case they didn't meet Him anywhere else.”

“My mom’s legacy is that her kids, grandkids and great grandkids are being raised the same way. I loved her sense of adventure, her sense of justice and forgiveness, and her sense of never living afraid of what was ahead of her,” Wright added.

“She loved us girls enough to be tough but loving, hard but soft and understanding enough to love and help but not enable,” said Cary Stonehouse, Binder’s second oldest daughter. “She not only was that for us girls but all those she loved. She shared love easily and deeply. She loved to have family and friends around her all the time.”

“My mom loved the Lord with all her heart and that was passed down to me,” Stonehouse said. “My mom was exceedingly strong and this was unknowingly passed to me which I discovered during the loss of my son, on whom I know that my mom is loving in heaven at this very moment.”


"She taught us to love without condition, to fight for what is right, to be proud of our country and be thankful for those that serve or have served. We learned that nothing came free and everything came at a cost - including our own sacrifices and accomplishments."

Jennifer Binder Budrick


“Words cannot describe all that my mom was to me,” Budrick said. “She was my best friend next to my husband. She loved so hard and I could always count on her to give the best advice because she was the most unbiased person I knew.”

Budrick continued, “My mom was a mother and a father to me. She was hilarious and so smart and witty. Her antics still have me giggling. She taught us to love without condition, to fight for what is right, to be proud of our country and be thankful for those that serve or have served. We learned that nothing came free and everything came at a cost – including our own sacrifices and accomplishments.”

Binder is survived by her three daughters and their families, eight grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.

Stonehouse added, “We could not have been more blessed than to have her as our mom.”


Celebration of Life - Saturday, November 4

A Celebration of Carole Rodda Binder’s life will be held on Saturday, November 4, 2023 at the Orland Park Civic Center, 14750 South Ravinia Avenue, from 10 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations in Carole Rodda Binder’s memory to the Disabled American Veterans or to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.


Carole Jean "Grandy" Rodda Binder

Carole Jean "Grandy" Binder, nee Rodda, long-time beloved companion of Bruce Cooper. Loving single mother of Sherry (Chris) Wright, Cary Stonehouse and Jennifer (Tim) Budrick. Cherished grandmother of Mark (Lauren) Noel, Aaron (Theresa) Noel, Tony (Alexis) Stonehouse, late John Michael Stonehouse, Collin (Mina) Budrick, Anastasia (fiancé Ethan) Budrick, Evalyn Budrick and Sophia Budrick. Dearest great-grandmother of Faith, Gabriella, Evangelyn, Hialeah, Justus, Isla and Katalena Noel.

Devoted daughter of the late Rosemarie Hubert and the late Don Rodda.

Dear sister of Donna (Dale) Baughman, Linda (Lenny) Gums, Katherine (Gary) Robinson, Rebecca (Joseph) Selman, Perry (Bev) Hubert and Dennis (Jean) Hubert.

Treasured aunt of many nieces and nephews. Carole is also survived by her stepmother Sandy Rodda and her step-siblings Todd and Paul and is preceded in death by her step-siblings Scott and Donna Sue.

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Oct 25, 2023

Well written Margie. Very informative. Thanks. You mentioned other names that I remember. How is Pat Franz doing?

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