Tom Marziani believed anything could be made better, including his longtime hometown of West Chicago.
So over a career that spanned decades, Marziani brought innovative ideas to several companies before turning his attention to development and spearheading a list of construction projects throughout West Chicago.
And along with his wife, Pearl, Marziani devoted countless hours to the community by serving on a variety of boards, from the plan commission to the chamber of commerce.
"He did just about everything," Mayor Ruben Pineda said. "He was completely involved and supportive when it came to West Chicago. He was the kind of person any community would love to have."
West Chicago lost Marziani earlier this week when he died at Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield. He was 89.
On Thursday, friends and family members recalled his commitment to the city that he called home since 1937.
"He was very proud of West Chicago," said Gini Marziani, one of Tom's two daughters.
David Sabathne, CEO of the Western DuPage Chamber of Commerce, said Marziani was the kind of person who believed in growing where you're planted.
"Where other people look across and see greener grass, he said, 'Let me learn about grass and make mine greener,'" Sabathne said. "He always believed in West Chicago and the opportunities here."
Marziani starting making his mark soon after graduating from West Chicago High School in 1943. He got a job with Howard Aircraft Co. installing aircraft engines for the war on the site of what is now DuPage Airport.
When that company was purchased by Douglas Aircraft Co. and relocated to an area near O'Hare Field, Marziani was able to put his engineering skills to work by redesigning an aircraft assembly line.
Marziani also worked with his future wife at Douglas. The couple married on June 1, 1946.
"Pearl was the love of his life," Sabathne said. "That's what allowed him to do what he did, because that team was unstoppable. What they did, they did together. They worshipped together. They worked together. They enjoyed spending time together. They were involved in the community together."
Gini Marziani said her parents constructed their own house in West Chicago and eventually started building rental units.
"He had great visions and great passions," Gini Marziani said. "She was there to implement it and support him."
Marziani was working at a pickle factory in West Chicago when it was purchased by the Wegner family, which owns Jel Sert Co. Marziani, who became vice president of manufacturing at Jel Sert, ended up designing some of the machines used by the company.
Tom and Pearl were instrumental in establishing the realty division of Wegner Land and Development Corp.
The Marzianis were involved as general contractors in building the industrial park at Roosevelt and Wegner roads.
Wegner Land and Development also developed the Willow Creek subdivision, which includes 220 houses and 180 townhouses.
"It has some of the best-quality homes in West Chicago," Sabathne said. "He (Marziani) is the one who had the vision and belief that it could be done."
The Marzianis and the Wegner family arranged a land swap with West Chicago Elementary District 33 that provided the site for Wegner School.
Gini Marziani said her father never really retired. Tom and Pearl Marziani ran Marziani Enterprises, a realty and development firm.
"He was always coming up with a new project," she said. "He was very passionate about construction."
Then there were the contributions to the community.
In the 1980s and early 1990s, he served on West Chicago's plan commission, the West Chicago Chamber of Commerce board and the DuPage Airport board.
As part of his work at the DuPage Airport, he helped to design the flight center and get the airport annexed into West Chicago. He served as airport board chairman for eight years.
Marziani served on the District 33 school board for eight years, three of those as president. He was a founding board member of the District 33 Education Foundation.
In 2006, the West Chicago Chamber of Commerce gave Marziani a Lifetime Achievement Award for his 50 years of contributions to the chamber and the West Chicago business community.
"West Chicago is part of me," Tom Marziani said during a 2006 interview with the Daily Herald. "The future of West Chicago is just beginning."
Visitation will be 3 to 9 p.m. Friday at Norris-Walen-Segert Funeral Home, 132 Fremont St., in West Chicago.
A Mass will be at 3 p.m. Saturday near the Flight Center at the DuPage Airport, 2700 International Drive, in West Chicago. Interment will take place at Calvary Cemetery in West Chicago.