By Bob Uphues
Chester "Chet" Kendzior Jr., who served as Riverside's village manager for 22 years, died Aug. 27, 2018 in Naples, Florida, at the age of 83.
During his years in Riverside, Mr. Kendzior built a reputation for devotion to the community, said Joseph DiNatale, under whom Mr. Kendzior worked for eight years before retiring in 1998.
"He was not a 9 to 5 guy," said DiNatale, who recalled Mr. Kendzior doing "windshield inspections," driving his car throughout the village checking to target gas lamps that needed repairs, trees that needed trimming or trash that needed to be cleared away. "He was always on the job."
David Newman, who was the village's attorney and grew to be a very close friend, echoed that sense of duty.
"He was the best of the [three] village managers I ever worked under," said Newman. "He'd work on Sundays. He just loved the village."
Newman described Mr. Kendzior as possessing a droll sense of humor. The two had birthdays that were very close together, and they would send each other a check every year in an amount to match their ages.
"I miss him a lot," Newman said.
Mr. Kendzior was born March 30, 1935 in Detroit and grew up in nearby Plymouth, Michigan, graduating from Plymouth High School before earning a bachelor's degree at the University of Michigan and, later, a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Kansas.
He served in the U.S. Army and was discharged in 1960, just prior to embarking on a long career in public service.
His first decade in local government was an itinerant one. Mr. Kendzior started his career in 1962 as an administrative assistant in Glencoe, and two years later he was named city manager of Greenville, a small manufacturing town in northwest Pennsylvania.
In 1967, Mr. Kendzior became city manager of Oxford, Ohio, before moving along in 1973 to another college town, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where he served as town manager until he was hired as Riverside's village manager in 1976 by President Louis J. Komorous.
"He was a fabulous right hand," said DiNatale, who served as a Riverside trustee from 1985 to 1989 and then as president from 1989 to 1997. "I trusted him implicitly. Every dime he was paid, he gave the village double."
In Riverside, Mr. Kendzior and his wife, Joan, found a permanent home, and he would stay on as Riverside's village manager until 1998, when he retired at the age of 62.
But in Riverside, Mr. Kendzior found not only a job, but a community into which he threw himself, active with the Riverside Kiwanis Club, the Frederick Law Olmsted Society, Riverside Presbyterian Church and with Boy Scouts as his two boys, Paul and Craig, were growing up.
Mr. Kendzior was the last Riverside village manager to live in town.
"He became part of the community and the village board was very supportive of him, and understandably so," Newman said, "because he went above and beyond his manager duties."
Joan Kendzior, a school teacher in the northwest suburbs, was a strong source of support, not only in private, but with her husband as a public figure. Even after the two moved to Naples, Florida, they remained active with Kiwanis and other organizations.
"He and his wife fell in love with the community," said DiNatale. "He was always a 'go Riverside' guy.
Upon retiring from the village, the Illinois General Assembly in February 1998 passed a resolution congratulating him upon the milestone.
"I think everybody missed him when he left," DiNatale said. "It was a joy to work with him."
Services have been held.