Dolores Bilek, 88

The longtime North Riverside resident was well-known in the village as owner of Polar Bear Ice Cream at Cermak and Forest in the 1970s and early 1980s, where local residents flocked in the summer for a cool treat and many local teens snared their first jobs. April 3.

 

James Buresh, 76

A scion of the Brookfield family who founded and operated Frank Buresh’s Lobster House, James met his wife, Carole, while bartending a party at the eatery and the two would celebrate their 52nd wedding anniversary just before his death. An attorney, he led the legal, financial and taxation team at Sears which was instrumental in moving the company’s headquarters to Hoffman Estates. Sept. 30.

 

Thomas F. Carey

A resident of Riverside since 1983, Carey starred as a quarterback at Mount Carmel High School and the University of Notre Dame before obtaining his law degree and eventually ascending to the position of president of Hawthorne Race Course, which has been a family business since 1904. He was instrumental in rebuilding the track after a devastating 1978 fire and oversaw its comeback prior to his retirement in 2005. Dec. 17.

 

Michael Colgrass, 87

The son of Brookfield’s longtime postmaster, Colgrass would leave Brookfield after high school and embark on a musical career, which would see the one-time swing band drummer earn a Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1978 for his experimental piece “Déjà Vu,” commissioned the year before by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. July 2.

 

Susan Fong, 80

Immigrating to the United States from China in 1958, Fong cut her teeth in the restaurant business in Milwaukee before joining forces with family and her husband, Paul Fong, to start the successful Cantonese Chef restaurant in Chicago’s Chinatown. In 1976, the couple bought the property at 26th and Desplaines in North Riverside and created Chef Shangri-La., known for its Cantonese cuisine and Tiki-inspired tropical drinks. Aug. 19.

 

Anthony Garbis, 80

Emigrating from Kefalonia, Greece in 1958, Garbis would own a string of grocery stores in the 1960s and 1970s until buying a former Jewel store in downtown Riverside in 1980 and founding Riverside Foods, which remains a vibrant family business. Though officially retired, Garbis was a fixture at the store when he wasn’t at his home in Kefalonia, which he built – the culmination of a lifelong dream — in 1995. Dec. 4.

 

Llewellyn “Lou” Heine, 89

A Purple Heart recipient as a Navy corpsman during the Korean War, Heine was president of Riverside Little League and was a tireless volunteer with the Riverside Lions and American Legion. He was named Riverside Person of the Year, along with his wife, Martha, in 1999. March 19. 

 

Rev. John Hergenrother, 79

Father Hergenrother was named pastor of St. Louise Parish in LaGrange Park in 1985 and assumed the title of pastor emeritus in 2010. In addition to his parish assignments, Hergenrother assisted the archbishop of Chicago as chancellor and as a judge for the Metropolitan Tribunal. July 8.

 

Vera Lynch, 103

The North Riverside resident was a pioneer in the world of Chicago fashion, working her way through the ranks at Marshall Field and Company from holiday season worker to fashion merchandiser/buyer. In 1962, she took on the role of manager of Marshall Field’s new store at the Oakbrook Center shopping mall. She worked for the company for 45 years. Oct. 8.

 

Rev. James Murphy, 80

Father Murphy was introduced to Brookfield Catholics relatively late in his career. Already a priest for 38 years when he was named pastor of St. Barbara Parish in 2003, he would retire and assume the title of pastor emeritus in 2009. Oct. 1.

 

Neil Pellicci, 64

The beloved longtime administrator at Komarek School in North Riverside served as the institution’s principal from 1987-2002 and then as superintendent until his retirement in 2015. A physical fitness buff who worked for 14 summers as lifeguard supervisor at Oak Street Beach, he competed in several marathons and triathlons. June 5.

 

Wayne Pesek, 68

North Riverside’s first-ever village administrator worked for the village for more than 30 years, starting off as a part-time seasonal employee in the Department of Public Works. He worked his way up to public works director in 1975. Named administrator in 1982, Pesek oversaw the acquisition of the Melody Mill Ballroom property and the subsequent construction of the municipal complex there in the 2300 and 2400 blocks of Desplaines Avenue. He retired in 2001. Sept. 25.

 

 

William Sherman, 66

Named Riverside’s deputy fire chief in 2015, Sherman spent 45 years as a Riverside firefighter and mentored hundreds of firefighters as a training officer in Riverside, Arlington Heights, Western Springs and at the Romeoville Fire Academy. An avid local historian, he was named an honorary member of the Riverside Historical Commission and actively chronicled the history of the fire department prior to his death on Dec. 19.

 

Richard Tuscher, 72

A longtime resident of the Hollywood section of Brookfield, Tuscher was long involved in local politics, serving as a member of the Brookfield Zoning Board of Appeals and president of the Brookfield Library Board before being elected to the Riverside Township Board of Trustees in 1997. He was appointed township supervisor in 2006 and remained in that role until retiring from government in 2017. March 19. 

 

Rev. Leon Wagner, 94

The pastor of St. Mary Parish in Riverside from 1975 until 1992, Father Wagner presided over a major interior renovation of the church and oversaw the construction of a new rectory, a split-level residence on Harrick Road across the street from the church. He retired in 1992 to South Carolina, where he continued to assist at a number of parishes. March 7.