The last years of Edna's life had been difficult. After social workers noticed signs of dementia, a judge ordered she be placed under the care of Kane County's public guardian. Less than a year later, she was put in a nursing home. Her house and many cherished possessions were sold when officials decided she was running out of money.
Edna lived alone. She had never married and had no children. But she knew finances: At the time of her retirement in 1979, she was one of only two women in the country to be certified by Registered School Business Administrators.
"She was a woman before her time," Rollins Principal Karen Hart said. "She was very proud of the fact that she could play with the boys and was well-respected."
Dave Rollins insists his aunt had planned for her financial future, even a long one. Yet her home was sold, according to court documents, due to her "rapidly depleting" funds. That assessment was made by the county's public guardian and OK'd by a Kane County judge. However, when the public guardian's accounting of Edna's assets was turned in -- five months after the decision to put the house up for sale, according to court documents -- the report indicated the elderly woman held about $500,000 in investments and property, plus yearly pension benefits.
Dave Rollins, a bank regulator with the U.S. Department of the Treasury who lives in New Jersey, is among a growing list of critics of Kane County Public Guardian Christine Adelman and the loosely monitored system under which she operates.
That list includes wards of the county, friends, family and neighbors of those currently under the guardian's control and lawyers working in the system. While most wards agree they need some help attending to financial or medical needs, some have serious concerns about the person in charge of their lives.
"They claim they are protecting me, but they are costing me hundreds of dollars and I never asked them to do it," said C. Elvan "Doc" Olmstead of Elgin in an interview with The Courier-News before he died in March.
Longtime friends say they are kept from interacting with the wards.
"If you dare question anything they are doing, how they are spending (the ward's) money, you are immediately put in the role of bad person," said Lauren Knight of Elgin, who was recently threatened with jail time if she had contact with a former neighbor she was concerned about.
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Growing Concerns Over Public Guardian's Loosely Defined Roles in the End