Former Huntley police chief Richard Rossi was remembered as an upbeat man who was passionate about his current job as a school district transportation director.
Rossi, 58, died Thursday while surrounded by his family at Provena St. Joseph Hospital in Elgin. He served as Huntley's top cop from 1983 to 1995.
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Most recently, Rossi was Huntley Unit District 158's transportation director. Longtime District 158 board member Kimberly Skaja remembered Rossi for his friendliness and energy, which was evident when he was seen around Huntley running with his dog.
"He was just a real upbeat kind of guy," Skaja said Saturday. "Always a smile on his face."
On the professional side, Skaja said she remembered a time she sent an email to Rossi about 9 p.m. with a transportation question, with the idea being he would see it the next morning and then reply. She said Rossi responded to the email soon after she sent it.
District 158 board member Kevin Gentry said transportation department employees thought highly of Rossi.
"He was very passionate in what he did," Gentry said. "He was very thorough."
School board members held a moment of silence to honor Rossi at Thursday night's meeting.
Rossi's 12-year career as Huntley's police chief ended when village trustees voted 5-2 to fire him in March 1995. Rossi went on to file a lawsuit contending he was improperly dismissed.
McHenry County Circuit Judge Michael Sullivan issued a directed verdict against Rossi in May 2000, saying even if the firing was wrong, no money was owed to him by Huntley. Rossi at the time said he was disappointed by the judge's decision and noted most of the jurors leaned in his favor during an informal poll taken by attorneys on both sides before the trial suddenly ended.
Visitation will be from 3 to 8 p.m. Monday at Trinity Lutheran Church, 11008 N. Church St. in Huntley. It will continue from 10 a.m. Tuesday until the funeral service at 11 a.m.
Rossi's survivors include his wife, Brenda, his daughter, Deanna, and his mother, Mary.