West Dundee man killed in work accident remembered as role model

A week after Don Tentler died in a work accident at the Geneva Commons shopping center, his children are having difficulty processing the reality of what happened.

Following in his dad's footsteps as a Chicago Cubs fan, 7-year-old Matthew rarely takes off the Anthony Rizzo shirt Tentler ordered for him. One-year-old Emma stands by the window at night waiting for her dad to get home from work.

"It's gut-wrenching," said Tentler's brother-in-law, Mark Alexander. "Don was a tremendous family man. His kids were his world."

Tragedy struck Friday when Tentler, a 47-year-old electrician, died of suffocation when he was pinned by a lifting device while installing a sign on a bell tower at the shopping center. The case remains under investigation by local authorities and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

A role model and an exemplary family man, Tentler left a lasting impression on everyone he met, say those who knew him.

The West Dundee resident never hesitated to volunteer if someone needed help, Alexander said. Tentler was involved with St. Catherine of Siena Church, served as a Cubmaster for his son's Cub Scout troop and was active in other community organizations.

Most importantly, everything Tentler did was for Lydia, his wife of nine years, and their two children.

"He was the coolest guy - the best person you'd ever know," Alexander said. "It seems like something you hear all the time, but this is the real deal. Everybody knew who Don was. He was that kind of gregarious, outgoing guy."

Alexander, who lives in Geneva, said he rushed from work to support Lydia Tentler, his sister, at the scene that day.

Helping to make the tragedy a bit more bearable, he said, are the countless people who have reached out to help since the accident.

A YouCaring online fundraiser page, Memorial Fund for Don Tentler, had raised about $19,000 for the Tentler family as of Wednesday afternoon. Also, volunteers have signed up to bring them meals nearly every night through the beginning of March.

"It is just unbelievable the amount of support they have gotten," Alexander said. "They're doing that for Don, in his honor, because that's the kind of person he was. They're doing it for his family because they know he would want that."

To friends and family, Tentler's list of interests and volunteer projects seemed endless. The motorcycle enthusiast owned a Harley Davidson and was involved with Warriors' Watch Riders, an organization that provides motorcycle escorts for the military. He was a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union, Local 701.

Tentler also volunteered with the Wounded Warrior Project and helped with ceremonies honoring first responders in the area.

Family friend Jim Mangan called Tentler "an incredible husband, an incredible father. He's the kind of guy who would give you the shirt off his back."

Tentler, who grew up in Chicago, is also survived by his parents, five siblings, Lydia's parents, as well as several nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins.

A wake will be held 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Catherine of Siena Church, 845 W. Main St., West Dundee. A funeral Mass is scheduled for 11 a.m., and a burial will follow.

West Dundee man killed while installing Geneva Commons' tower sign

Coroner: Geneva Commons worker died of asphyxia

Don Tentler holds his 1-year-old daughter, Emma, while standing beside Lydia, his wife of nine years, and Matthew, his 7-year-old son. He died Friday in a work-related accident. Courtesy of Mark Alexander
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