Timothy Allen "Tim" Busse, the longtime owner of Busse Farm in Elk Grove Village and a scion of a family instrumental in founding the suburbs, died Wednesday. He was 65.
Busse's death comes just two weeks after he sold his family farm to a development group building what's been billed as a potentially $1 billion technology park.
The valuable property between Higgins Road and Oakton Boulevard is the largest undeveloped swath of land in the O'Hare market. For decades, developers pursued the Busse property, which twice was considered a possible location for a Chicago Bears stadium.
Busse, along with his father, Allen F. Busse, and brother, Rudolph Busse, both of whom have died, continued farming the property settled by the family in 1848 -- even as residential neighborhoods, office buildings and industrial districts sprouted up all around.
"They were big, rugged, tough, American farmers who had been through good and bad," family friend and attorney Dan Dowd said. "Tim was just a man of his word. He was a generous guy. You could take his handshake and go anywhere on it."
Busse had been suffering from heart complications, but his death was a surprise, Dowd said. An autopsy Thursday determined Busse died from a heart condition called dilated cardiomyopathy, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office.
In mid-January, Busse completed the sale of the farm to Brennan Investment Group, which plans to develop the Elk Grove Technology Park. The development will be one of the largest of its kind in the country, with up to 1.2 million square feet of state-of-the-art industrial and data center space.
"Tim's a linchpin now for probably the largest development in this village's history," Mayor Craig Johnson said.
The Busse name can be found throughout the Northwest suburbs, on streets, parks, a Cook County Forest Preserve and other public spaces. Dowd called that a sign of the family's good, respectable character.
"There's certain people in your life who make a big impression," Dowd said. "He was a true nonconformist. He was a unique guy."