Rolling Meadows alderman and longtime community member Larry Buske died Sunday after battling lung cancer for more than a year.
Buske, 68, held the 3rd Ward City Council seat since 2003 and until last month continued coming to council meetings during his illness, said Mayor Tom Rooney.
Remembered as a tough guy who wouldn't hesitate to disagree with his fellow council members -- sometimes heatedly -- Buske also had a soft side, particularly for his wife, Brenda, and their family.
The two met at a drive-in restaurant in the 1960s, were engaged three months later and married within the year -- Brenda was 18, Larry was 21.
"We just knew," Brenda said. "We didn't wait around in those days."
They renewed their vows in September, celebrating 47 years of marriage, she said. They had three children, including one who died several decades ago, and four grandchildren -- for whom Buske had a soft spot.
"That big bear loved three things: people, nature and the city of Rolling Meadows," said Rooney, who worked with Buske for eight years as a fellow alderman and then mayor.
Buske owned Buske & Sons Landscaping based out of his home for more than 40 years.
He spent eight years as a Rolling Meadow auxiliary police officer, and also served on the fire and police commission, economic development commission and vehicle replacement committee. He was a youth group leader at his church and spent two years as a Boy Scout leader, according to his candidate profile during the 2011 election.
"We may have differences of opinion on the council, but there's nobody that would ever argue with how much he loves this city," Rooney said. "At the end of the day he just bled Rolling Meadows."
Rooney will appoint a replacement for Buske's seat, but said he would like to wait until after the funeral to discuss that further.
The council will observe a moment of silence at the beginning of its Tuesday meeting to remember Buske, he said.
Friends said they'll miss debating Buske about the issues, at meetings and elsewhere.
"What you saw with Larry was what you got," fellow Alderman John D'Astice said, noting Buske's sometimes outspoken style. "There was no pretense about him. He was an honest, hardworking man who loved his family."
Outside of city work, D'Astice said the two became friends, going hunting together and attending functions for one anothers kids.
"He was a pushover for his grandchildren," D'Astice said. "They would come into his house and his eyes would just light up. He would spoil them rotten. A lot of people didn't see that side of him, but for those who had the opportunity to, it was great. He was just a super person."
Visitation will take place Thursday, Dec. 20 from 3 to 8 p.m. at The Meadows Funeral Home, 3615 Kirchoff Road in Rolling Meadows. The funeral will take place at 11 a.m. Friday, Dec. 21 at St. John United Church of Christ, 308 N. Evergreen in Arlington Heights.