ROSEMONT, Ill. – Donald Stephens spent more than half a century at the helm of this Chicago suburb. Now, less than two months after his death, some say an eerie likeness of the late mayor's face has appeared in the peeling bark of a 50-foot sycamore.
The image is fueling speculation and wonder in the village of 4,200 residents — the town Stephens is credited with transforming from a tiny enclave of just a few dozen people to a bustling community with one of the nation's largest convention centers.
"He told me, you screw things up, I'm gonna haunt you," said Bradley Stephens, the mayor's 44-year-old son who was appointed to complete his father's term. "When it starts talking, we're all in trouble."
The tree, outside a health club, was twice slated to be torn down. It was saved each time because Stephens intervened.
Now, it's guarded by a barricade, and a single candle placed by well-wishers stands nearby.
But not everyone is convinced it looks like Stephens.
"I see Jesus," said Cathy Sansone, the membership director at the health club who says any resemblance to the late mayor is simply the "power of suggestion."