Robert Mork, a longtime Wheaton city councilman and legal counsel to the DuPage Forest Preserve District, is being remembered by area leaders for his skillful articulation of his views and dedication to his community.
Mork, 58, died Tuesday morning following a battle with cancer, his wife, Lorraine, said.
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He served on the city council from 1993 to 2005 and was the forest preserve district's attorney for three decades.
"Bob always had a very insightful way of looking at things," said Wheaton Mayor Mike Gresk, who served with Mork on the council for eight years. "He was always a good steward of our cause in Wheaton and making Wheaton a better place to live.
"He always had a voice for what is good in Wheaton. He always had an opinion. He was skillful and artful at explaining his position."
DuPage County Board member Grant Eckhoff, who also was on the city council with Mork, said Mork was "very intense" when he was presenting his position on issues, including redevelopment of the downtown. He was able to explain zoning issues that involved sometimes controversial real estate developments, Eckhoff said.
"People would see the vacant lots their kids played in, then (others) came to develop the properties. (Bob) was an attorney. He knew how to explain that property owners have rights to develop their property," Eckhoff said.
But he also had a soft side.
City Councilman Tom Mouhelis recalls a council meeting from 2003 when Mork was serving as mayor pro tem and the city was honoring a returning Iraq War veteran who became a quadriplegic.
"There was a side of Bob that showed how he cared for people. I saw Bob choke up afterward," Mouhelis said. "He wasn't all gruff. He had a heart, too."
Forest Preserve President Dewey Pierotti noted Mork's work as the district's behind-the-scenes legal expert for the past 30 years who helped draft most of the forest preserve board's ordinances and resolutions.
"If you went to check something, he knew why we drafted it," Pierotti said. "You can't find that knowledge anywhere because he had it all."
Pierotti said he considered Mork to be not only a close friend, but almost a kid brother or son.
"Any decision I ever made based on his guidance was one I made with 100 percent confidence," Pierotti said. "I will miss him every time I walk into the forest preserve building."
Mork was a 1972 graduate of Wheaton Central High School, where he was captain of the football team. He went on to Wheaton College, where he met his wife. He attended John Marshall Law School, and later clerked for Illinois Supreme Court Justice Howard Ryan.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Wheaton Bible Church.
Funeral arrangements are private.
• Daily Herald staff writer Justin Kmitch contributed to this report.