Wayne Edward Pesek, who was appointed the village of North Riverside’s first-ever municipal administrator in 1982 and spent more than three decades working for the village in various capacities, died Sept. 25, 2019 at the age of 68.
Since his retirement as village administrator in 2001, Pesek had kept a low profile in town, although he continued to live in his home overlooking Veterans Park. He provided consulting services for other municipalities, most recently serving as economic development coordinator for northwest suburban Harwood Heights.
“He was very good, very knowledgeable,” said North Riverside Village Administrator Guy Belmonte, who replaced Pesek when the latter retired after 19 years as administrator.
Belmonte was a North Riverside trustee during Pesek’s years as village administrator. When Pesek retired, said Belmonte, “He said if I ever needed any help to give him a call. He was very helpful.”
Pesek attended Hauser Junior High School and Riverside-Brookfield High School and joined the North Riverside Public Works Department in 1966 as a part-time seasonal employee.
He worked his way up the ladder in the department, according to an article published in the Suburban Life announcing Pesek’s retirement, eventually becoming public works superintendent in 1971 and then its director in 1975.
In that leadership capacity during the 1970s, Pesek was involved in updating the village’s zoning code to pave the way for the North Riverside Park Mall. Part of the land around the mall would be turned into the village’s first public park, Veterans Park.
“His love was public works,” said Tim Kutt, whom Pesek hired as a seasonal employee for public works and who would eventually become public works director himself. “He wouldn’t give you any job that he wouldn’t do himself. He was a hands-on guy, a good leader and manager.”
North Riverside Village President James Votava hired Pesek as the village’s first administrator in 1982, initiating a municipal building campaign which paved the way to the village acquiring the Melody Mill Ballroom and grounds in the 2400 block of Desplaines Ave. via eminent domain.
Pesek would oversee the construction of the entire municipal campus – fire department, public works, police and the Village Commons building. The project also included the creation of Commons Park south of the Canadian Nation Railway line between the Village Commons building and Veterans Park.
Commons Park, according to the 2001 Suburban Life report, was one of Pesek’s favorite projects.
“The one thing I like doing is building things because I like seeing the tangible results,” Pesek told the Life.
But Pesek also faced some of the same issues that continue to challenge village officials today. In the mid-1990s, with the prospect of sales taxes unable to fund village services without additional revenue, the village floated asking voters to give North Riverside home rule status, saying it would allow them to increase sales taxes.
Residents wanted no part of that, with 300 people showing up to a meeting to make their displeasure known.
In January 2001, Pesek, who was just 50 years old at the time, decided to accept an early retirement plan and ended his service to North Riverside after a total of 35 years.
He stayed under the radar locally, except for a brief period in 2005, when he was severely beaten inside a Forest Park steakhouse. He accused former Berwyn Public Safety Director Frank Marzullo; whose political patrons had lost a local election that night; his son Jerry Marzullo, who had lost a race for Berwyn alderman; and three others of the beating.
However, the accused were all acquitted during a bench trial in 2007 by a Cook County judge. A federal civil lawsuit related to the incident was settled.
There will be an honorary procession in front of the North Riverside Village Commons, 2401 Desplaines Ave., on Monday, Sept. 30 at 11 a.m. Friends are welcome to attend and pay final respects in front the building.
Pesek was the father of Anthony and Christopher and the grandfather of Anthony Jr. and Jenna Pesek.
Services are private.
Hitzeman Funeral Home, Brookfield, handled arrangements.