By Bob Uphues
Edward Meksto, the only three-term village president in the history of Riverside, died March 20, 2018. He was 94 years old.
Mr. Meksto spent 17 years as an elected official in Riverside, serving first as a trustee from 1972-77 (he was first appointed in 1972) and then as president from 1977 to 1989. He was the village board's liaison to the Riverside Centennial Committee in 1975, and upon retiring as an elected official in 1989, Mr. Meksto was named Riverside Township Person of the Year by the Lions Club and Chamber of Commerce.
"We just loved the town," Mr. Meksto told the Landmark in a 2017 interview prior to him being honored for his military service at the Riverside Memorial Day ceremony.
Meksto and his wife, Esther, moved to Riverside in 1962 after Esther read an article about Blythe Park School in Life Magazine.
"I didn't want a subdivision," Mrs. Meksto said. "I mostly wanted a small-town community with a village feel."
The couple bought a home across the street from Blythe Park School, living there for 30 years. In recent years, they split their time between homes in Palm Beach, Florida, and an apartment in Hinsdale.
Mr. Meksto had a 33-year career as a commercial airline pilot, first for Capital Airlines – where he met his wife, who was a flight attendant – and then with United Airlines, which merged with Capital in 1961.
He learned to fly while serving in the U.S. Marines during World War II. Meksto enlisted shortly after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor but wasn't commissioned a 2nd lieutenant until 1944, when he underwent training to be a B-25 bomber pilot.
He shipped out to the Pacific in 1945 and piloted a handful of bombing runs over Rabaul, a Japanese-held stronghold, before being transferred to the Philippines to train for the invasion of Japan.
"While we were en route … that's when they dropped the big one," Mr. Meksto said of the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
He spent several months as a pilot after the war transporting troops, and he was recalled to active duty in 1952 during the Korean War. He was stationed at the Marine Corps Air Station at Cherry Point, North Carolina, flying C119 transport planes and training new pilots.
Mr. Meksto left military active duty in 1954, the same year he and Esther were married. He was discharged from the Marines in 1959 at the rank of major.
He was the husband of Esther Meksto (nee Chovanec); the father of Michael (Kay) Meksto, Tom (Sheri) Meksto and Sue (Jeff) Lambert; the grandfather of Michael (Savannah) Meksto, Kelly Meksto, Brooke Meksto, Jack Meksto, Kelsey Meksto, Shelby Meksto and Garrett Lambert; the great-grandfather of Cassidy, Ryder and Esther Ray; and an uncle to many nieces and nephews.
Visitation is Wednesday, March 28, from 4 to 8 p.m. at Kuratko-Nosek Funeral Home, 2447 Desplaines Ave. in North Riverside. Funeral is on Thursday, March 29, with lying in state from 9 a.m. until the time of service at 10 a.m. at Saints Peter and Paul Lutheran Church, 250 Woodside Road, Riverside.
Interment with military honors will follow at 1:30 p.m. at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery 20953 W. Hoff Road, Elwood. Family and friends are asked to meet at the cemetery's Public Information Center by 1:15 p.m.
Memorials are appreciated to Honor Flight Chicago.