Anthony L. “Tony” Bednarz, 80, of Riverside, died on May 21, 2022. Born on April 4, 1942, he was the retired fire chief of the Riverside and Western Springs fire departments and an avid golfer, who loved fishing and boating in Florida and Michigan.
Chief Bednarz was hired as a member of the Riverside Fire Department in 1961, following his father’s footsteps. He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant in 1971, captain in 1974, assistant chief in 1975 and then fire chief in 1976. He moved quickly through the ranks because of his professionalism and dedication to the village of Riverside and the fire service profession. He had the honor to work alongside his son, Charles, who was also a Riverside fire lieutenant.
Chief Bednarz improved the fire and emergency medical services, not only in Riverside, but across the state of Illinois. He was instrumental in initiating the State of Illinois Firefighter Certification Program, the first emergency medical technicians (EMTs) in Riverside and eventually increasing that level of service to Advanced Life Support service with the hiring of paramedics. He also established the E-911 emergency phone system in Riverside.
An active member of MABAS Division 10 (Mutual Aid Box Alarm System), which included many neighboring fire departments and fire districts, he served two terms as president of the MABAS Division 10 Chiefs Committee. He was also instrumental in developing guidelines for incident command and communications, which is still utilized on the fireground to this day.
After serving for over 45 years at the Riverside Fire Department, Chief Bednarz became chief of the Western Springs Fire Department and served at the director of Fire and EMS from 2006 until 2012, replacing an engine and ambulance, obtaining a grant for Mobile Dispatch terminals, instituting a Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) and overseeing construction of Fire Station #2 at 5501 Grand Ave in Western Springs.
Chief Bednarz built the bedrock on which the Riverside Fire Department now stands. He was a forward thinker and always fought hard for what he knew was the right thing to do. He carried on that passion in everything he did.
Tony Bednarz was the husband of Marianne (nee Krier), the father of Krista (Des) Varady, Lisa (Richard) Gentile, Charles Bednarz, and Paula (Mike) Savino; grandfather of Colin and Jake Varady, Richie, Luke and Nicole Gentile, Michael Bednarz, Caden Luke, Matthew Bednarz, Loryana Luke, Grace Bednarz, Annalea Luke, Tessa Luke and Isabella, Nicholas, Megan and Dominic Savino; great-grandfather of Zoey Bednarz; brother of the late Paul (MaryAnn) Bednarz; and uncle of John, David and Paul Jr. “PJ” Bednarz.
Visitation will be held at Conboy-Westchester Funeral Home, 10501 W. Cermak Road, Westchester on Wednesday, May 25 from 4 to 8 p.m. There will be a Fire Deparment walk-through at 7 p.m. (line-up at 6:45 p.m.). A funeral Mass will be celebrated 10 a.m. on Thursday, May 26 at St. Mary Church, Riverside. Interment is private.
In lieu of flowers, please donate blood in Tony’s memory or donate to University of Chicago Leukemia Center (Give to the Comprehensive Cancer Center).
Arrangements were handled by the Original Kuratko Family – Brian D. Kuratko, Funeral Director.