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Article updated: 1/7/2014 5:19 PM

Former Arlington Heights Trustee Ed Duffy dies

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Former Arlington Heights trustee and Arlington Park executive Ed Duffy, a longtime advocate of horse racing in Illinois, died Saturday.

Duffy's varied career included time with the Chicago Police Department, working for former Illinois Gov. Jim Thompson and lobbying in Springfield.

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"He was respected in the community. He was respected in Springfield," said state Rep. David Harris, an Arlington Heights Republican.

Former Arlington Heights Mayor Arlene Mulder said Duffy was on the board that helped develop North School Park into the space it is now instead of letting it become a commercial or housing development.

Now, all the bricks there commemorating park donors' marriages and births of children are "a tribute to his vision," Mulder said.

"He's one of those people that don't get a lot of recognition but get a lot of things done," she said.

Duffy retired from the village board in 1989, the same year former Trustee Steve Daday was first elected, but that didn't stop him from continuing to share his thoughts on the direction of the village.

"He would call me when he thought I wasn't doing something the way it should be done or to congratulate me when he liked a decision," Daday said.

He wasn't afraid to stand up for a development he believed in, even if that meant going against some neighbors, such as when Lutheran Home was looking to expand and develop town homes, Daday remembered.

"That was very hotly contested and the neighbors were not happy, but (Ed) thought it was a good thing and that the community needed it," he said. "He foresaw the need for more senior housing in Arlington Heights and it became one of the first developments like that in the area."

Duffy was also on the village board when the master plan was approved to virtually rebuild downtown Arlington Heights, where he later lived.

"He was one of the architects of that," Daday said.

Duffy worked at Arlington Park after time on the village board and was an executive at Sportsman's Park in Cicero after that.

Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen Association President Mike Campbell said Duffy was the group's first lobbyist in the late 1990s.

"His enthusiasm encouraged other people to be enthusiastic about horse racing," Campbell said.

He is survived by his wife Nancy, five daughters and eight grandchildren.

A visitation will be held beginning at 3 p.m. Friday at Countryside Funeral Home & Crematory, 950 S. Bartlett Road, Bartlett, followed by a service at 8 p.m. at the funeral home.

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