Former Des Plaines alderman Carmen Sarlo, 85, died Thursday. He suffered from heart problems and prostate cancer, according to a close friend.
Sarlo, a retired Navistar foreman, served 22 years on the Des Plaines city council representing the city's 6th Ward from 1973 to 1981 and again from 1985 to 1999. He was one of 16 aldermen representing eight wards until residents voted in a referendum to reduce the number to eight aldermen for eight wards in 1988.
"He was on the council going back when I first got involved in politics in 1977," said former Des Plaines Mayor Michael Albrecht, who served with Sarlo from 1989 through 1993.
Albrecht said though the two often disagreed, he grew to respect Sarlo over the years.
"He was just a man of the people," he said. "He certainly cared about the city. He was concerned about the people in his ward, and certainly all the people and very adamant in addressing their concerns."
Sarlo fought to find solutions to the flooding problems residents faced in the 6th Ward and was integral in getting a major storm sewer installed along Pratt Avenue near Orchard Place, Albrecht said.
He also was concerned about businesses encroaching on residential areas, he added.
Sarlo was a stickler for following the letter of the law and was well-versed on parliamentary rules for public meetings established by Robert's Rules of Order, said his close friend and former 7th Ward alderman Nick Chiropolos.
"Carmen was a dedicated, hardworking, civil servant that served his constituents well," said Chiropolos, who served 16 years on the council alongside Sarlo.
Chiropolos recalled he and Sarlo opposed the city's membership in the Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County, a nonprofit intergovernmental agency that provides waste management services for the consortium of member towns.
"We just didn't think that this was the right organization to handle our needs as far as garbage disposal," Chiropolos said. "We weren't too happy with the way they were handling their finances ... so we decided that it was time to get out. It cost us $1 million. We caught a lot of flak on that one. (But) we got this money back because we went out on our own, and we got better prices and better services than the consortium."
"He was a personal friend and a good person," Chiropolos added. "He set the example. He was a leader. We lost a good guy."
Sarlo worked for 30 years with International Harvester. He was a former coach and umpire with the Devon-Higgins Little League, past president of the Orchard Place Civic Association, and was involved in the Girl and Boy Scouts of America.
Sarlo is survived by his children, Linda Braum, Nancy Sarlo, Robert Sarlo, and Ronald Sarlo. He was preceded in death by his wife, Harriet, and son David Sarlo.
Visitation for Sarlo is scheduled from 3 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 22, at Oehler Funeral Home, 2099 Miner St., Des Plaines. A memorial service will be held 11 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 23, at the funeral home with burial to follow at Town of Maine Cemetery in Park Ridge.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the American Heart Association.