Funeral arrangements pending for crash victims

 
 
Updated 11/30/2011 1:51 PM
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  • John and Ilomae Bialek of Streamwood were killed in Monday's plane crash in Riverwoods.

    John and Ilomae Bialek of Streamwood were killed in Monday's plane crash in Riverwoods. Photo courtesy of ABC 7 Chicago

  • John Bialek of Streamwood

    John Bialek of Streamwood Photo courtesy of ABC 7 Chicago

  • Ilomae Bialek of Streamwood

    Ilomae Bialek of Streamwood Photo courtesy of ABC 7 Chicago

  • William "Bill" Didier

    William "Bill" Didier Photo Courtesy of the Didier family

Family and friends are mourning the death of a Streamwood couple and Wisconsin pilot killed when their medical transport plane crashed late Monday in Riverwoods.

John and Ilomae Bialek were longtime residents of the Chicago area before they retired from careers in real estate and bought a home in West Palm Beach, Fla. in 2003.

They were devoted parishioners of Holy Spirit Roman Catholic Church in nearby Lantana, Fla., and active volunteers in many of its ministries.

"The priests and parishioners were so fond of their sense of humor," according to a statement issued by Holy Spirit. "They were so proud of their children and grandchildren."

Church officials said priests often visited John Bialek, who had been hospitalized. The couple reportedly commissioned a medical transport plane so he could fly back to the Chicago area and be closer to his family while receiving treatment.

John Bialek, 80, received a real estate salesperson license in 1980 and then worked as a licensed real estate broker based in Oak Park until 2002, records show. Ilomae, 75, also held a real estate salesperson license for 23 years.

Neighbors on the quiet Streamwood cul-de-sac where the Bialeks lived while in Illinois said the couple mostly kept to themselves. A woman at the Roselle home of son John B. Bialek declined to discuss the family or the plane crash.

The crash also claimed the life of the plane's pilot, William "Bill" Didier, 58, of Cedar Grove, Wis. Two others aboard the twin-engine aircraft survived.

Didier's older brother, Peter Didier, described him as an experienced pilot who was insistent on safety.

"He was so fussy. There was always a checklist," said Peter Didier, himself a pilot who often flew alongside his brother. "I'd say, 'Come on Bill. Let's just go.' But he'd say 'No.' He was picky to annoyance when it came to safety."

Didier is survived by his wife, Connie, three children and his grandchildren. Dennis Rouleau, the manager of Chicago Executive Airport, praised Didier, saying the crash could have been "much worse" if not for the way he brought the troubled plane down.

"It's a miracle that two people survived. The pilot did a very good job considering the circumstances," Rouleau said.

Piloting aircraft was a second career for William Didier, his brother said. He first worked as a machinist, and waited until midlife to pursue his passion for flying. Peter Didier said his brother took aviation classes on the side, until he earned his pilot's license.

"I said, 'You're 40 years old and you've got glasses, I don't know.' But he wanted to do it," he said. "Passion is the right word for it."

Peter said his brother had been flying professionally for 15 years, and recreationally for 30 years. He was a certified flight instructor, and his first pilot job was flying freight around the U.S. During the recession, Bill was laid off and unemployed for a year, his brother said.

About a year ago, Bill was hired by Trans North Aviation to do medical flights and was thrilled to be piloting again, Peter said. Between his work and personal time, Bill flew "pretty much every day," his brother said.

Peter Didier described his brother as a quiet man who liked to spend time in his garden, with his family, and tinkering with his boat in the garage.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

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