Building contractor left his mark on Arlington Heights

Updated 1/7/2013 6:50 AM
  • Claude V. Markstrom, who helped build many of the churches and buildings in Arlington Heights, died Jan. 4 at the age of 86.

    Claude V. Markstrom, who helped build many of the churches and buildings in Arlington Heights, died Jan. 4 at the age of 86. Photo courtesy of the Markstrom family

Claude V. Markstrom, whose legacy as a building contractor can be seen today in institutions such as Faith Lutheran Church and the Lutheran Home in Arlington Heights, died quietly at his Buffalo Grove home Friday at age 86.

Markstrom began his career partnering with his father, Carl V. Markstrom, a Swedish immigrant who was a carpenter, said Markstrom's daughter, Chris Churchill. He worked as a building contractor from the early 1950s until he retired in 1988.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Markstrom built the Olsen Center and the chapel at the Lutheran Home, and the First Arlington National Bank (now Chase Bank) in downtown Arlington Heights. He managed major remodeling projects at St. Peter Lutheran Church and Faith Lutheran Church, and contracted several projects in the retail stores in downtown Arlington Heights as well as other churches, schools and hospitals.

"He loved doing the churches more than anything," Churchill said.

His remodeling work at Faith Lutheran Church, at 431 S. Arlington Heights Road, gained much attention for the way that the roof was able to be supported while the walls were being completely rebuilt.

"The arches that support the roof were supported by braces underground, so he didn't have to take down the whole roof," Churchill said.

Markstrom's wife, Gertrude, added, "Everybody came from all around to look at the church that was on stilts."

Churchill said the work served as a model for the remodeling work done at the previous Arlington Heights Metra station in the 1980s.

Markstrom also remodeled the room at Northwest Community Hospital that housed the hospital's first MRI machine, his wife said.

Aside from his work, Markstrom had a love for fishing, boating and water sports -- a love that he passed on to several generations of his family. They all spent many happy moments in Green Lake, Wis.

Markstrom's daughter, Karen Seehausen, remembers her father as "a very happy cheerful man, always smiling. He always had a little joke for everybody. Everybody loved him."

After retiring, Markstrom worked as a field representative for Hundreiser, Gutowsky and Associates, inspecting job sites and consulting with clients.

He was on the board of directors at First Arlington National Bank and the village of Arlington Heights' Building Codes Review Board. He also served in the Navy during World War II, and as a trustee and elder at Faith Lutheran Church.

During his recent illness, his wife said he spent several months as an inpatient for physical rehab at the Olsen Center of the Lutheran home. During that time, she said, he was treated as a celebrity, since he was responsible for the remodeling work there. He was constantly asked questions about various portions of the building by staff and other patients.

Visitation for Claude V. Markstrom will be from 4 until 8 p.m. on Monday at the Glueckert Funeral Home, 1520 N. Arlington Heights Road, in Arlington Heights. The funeral will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Faith Lutheran Church, 431 S. Arlington Heights Road, Arlington Heights.

Markstrom is survived by his wife of 64 years, Gertrude; his daughters, Karen (John) Seehausen of Inverness and Christine Churchill of Algonquin; two grandchildren and one great grandson.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be given to Faith Lutheran Church.

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