Tribute to Bill Robertsonby Senator Richard J. Durbin
Posted on 2013-03-06
DURBIN. I rise today to say a few words in honor of Bill
Robertson, an extraordinary man from Rockford, IL, whom we recently
lost to illness.
Bill Robertson was a public servant in the best sense of the term. For the last few years, he was considered the voice of reason on the Rockford, IL, City Council, but his service started well before his election to the City Council.
After college, he served in the Marines before signing up for the Rockford Fire Department. To put this another way, after serving in a job where he would have been under fire, he decided to take a job running into fires. It made sense to him, and he loved it.
He spent 36 years of his life in that fire department, rising to command the department's training academy. He will be remembered for always knowing cadets by name and frequently checking in to see how recruits were doing.
He did so well that in 1991 he was asked to be the ninth chief in the Rockford Fire Department's 133-year history. He held that job for 17 years, until he retired in 2008.
Retirement turned out to be short-lived for Bill Robertson. In 2009, he was elected to the Rockford City Council, and he quickly became a leader there too.
His council colleagues recall that, even in a time of bitter and occasionally over-the-top politics, Robertson always strove for common ground and acted as a voice of reason. Perhaps that is one of the reasons one of the many reasons so many people from the Rockford community came to pay tribute and celebrate his life when he passed away. I am told there were hundreds of well-wishers in attendance, and I am sorry Loretta and I were not able to be there to pay our respects to this generous leader.
Each and every one of them were touched by the good work he did throughout his life. He will not be forgotten, but he will be missed.