As an overnight bundle catcher, Dhirajlal Ratanpara had one of the hardest, most labor-intensive jobs at the Daily Herald's Paddock Printing Center in Schaumburg, handling between 200,000 and 300,000 pounds of paper in a shift.
But Ratanpara -- or "DH" as his co-workers called him -- was so "happy-go-lucky" no one could ever know that fact, said John Johnson, the center's packaging and distribution manager.
"He was one of the sharpest guys we've ever hired," Johnson said, adding that Ratanpara was always smiling and laughing. "He'll be missed by a lot of folks."
Ratanpara, 57, of Hanover Park, died early Tuesday morning after he was hit by a vehicle on the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway late Monday night on his way to work. He was standing outside of his car after being involved in an earlier crash on the slick roadway. District 2 State Police Master Sgt. Amy Pelletier said no charges are being filed because it was an accident.
A native of India, Ratanpara moved with his family to the United States from England a few years ago, Johnson said. He started working for the Daily Herald in June 2010.
"He always did his job to the best of his ability, quietly and without complaint," said Stu Paddock III, vice president of IT and process operations, in a statement. "The staff here at the Paddock Printing Center is like family -- he will be sadly missed by many of us."
Johnson said Ratanpara was "a unique character" and all his co-workers were fascinated with his Indian-English accent. He is survived by his wife Mina, his daughter Rima Koradia, his son Ashit, who lives in India, and two granddaughters, Saanvi and Simran.
"Everybody just can't stop crying over him," Koradia said. "He was always there for everyone."