'We lost a great leader': Hoffman Estates mourns death of Trustee Michael Gaeta

Michael Gaeta, a Hoffman Estates village trustee for the past decade, has died at the age of 86, his fellow village officials announced Monday.

Gaeta had been attending the village board's meetings largely by phone for the past several months.

Hoffman Estates Mayor Bill McLeod remembered Gaeta as someone who may have loved public service even more than he does.

"Michael loved people," McLeod said. "He loved meeting people and serving the people of Hoffman Estates. He was always upbeat, always positive. We really lost a great leader and a wonderful friend."

Born and raised in Cleveland, Gaeta joined the Army after high school and was stationed in West Germany for 2½ years. He later obtained an associate degree from Fenn Community College in Cleveland.

He and wife Johanna married in 1960, and they had four children, six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Gaeta was elected to the Hoffman Estates village board in 2013 and won reelection in 2017 and 2021. As trustee, he served as chairman of the Public Health and Safety Committee, was co-chair of the Village Green Ad-Hoc Committee, served as the Hoffman Estates' representative on the O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission, and was a member of the village's Commission for Senior Citizens.

Before serving in an elected role, Gaeta had been on the village's planning and zoning commission for three years and zoning board of appeals for five years.

An expert pilot, Gaeta was a longtime member of the Civil Air Patrol, reaching the rank of lieutenant colonel and put in charge of search-and-rescue missions. He owned an airplane and was an instrument-rated pilot.

Having retired from a career in food service, Gaeta and his wife owned and operated three distributorships for Seattle Sutton's Healthy Eating.

Visitation and funeral arrangements were still pending Monday.

  Hoffman Estates Trustee Mike Gaeta, right, stands alongside Mayor Bill McLeod during an appearance at the 2022 Northwest Celtic Fest at Now Arena in Hoffman Estates. Joe Lewnard/, 2022
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