From laundry to engineering, Lake Forest hospital's Niskanen rubs elbows with the best

  • Dan Niskanen, in blue tie, is among those honored at a recent program at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital. He retired from full-time work as a systems engineer after about 50 years. He is now part time.

    Dan Niskanen, in blue tie, is among those honored at a recent program at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital. He retired from full-time work as a systems engineer after about 50 years. He is now part time. COURTESY OF NORTHWESTERN MEDICINE LAKE FOREST HOSPITAL

  • Dan Niskanen, who retired from full-time work as a systems engineer at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital, left, is congratulated by Thomas J. McAfee, hospital president.

    Dan Niskanen, who retired from full-time work as a systems engineer at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital, left, is congratulated by Thomas J. McAfee, hospital president. COURTESY OF NORTHWESTERN MEDICINE LAKE FOREST HOSPITAL

  • Erica Wiegel of Elk Grove Village owns and operates Aro Metal Stamping Inc. in Roselle.

    Erica Wiegel of Elk Grove Village owns and operates Aro Metal Stamping Inc. in Roselle. COURTESY OF ARO METAL STAMPING INC.

  • Grant Johnson

    Grant Johnson

  • Brandon Stahl

    Brandon Stahl

  • Frances Simons

    Frances Simons

  • David L. Currotto

    David L. Currotto

 
 
Posted6/19/2016 1:00 AM

Dan Niskanen worked his way of up from the laundry department to systems engineer, spending about 50 years at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital.

The Gurnee resident was recently honored for his long employment and his retirement from full-time work after serving under four hospital presidents, meeting numerous celebrities and ensuring the hospital equipment ran smoothly.

 

"I loved my job and the people are so nice there," said Niskanen, 65. "They were like a family to me."

At 15, Niskanen started working at the hospital earning $1.07 an hour as a part timer. His father worked at the hospital at that time, and in later years, so did his brother Karl, who still works in the engineering department.

After high school graduation, Dan Niskanen earned a state power engineering license and joined the engineering team full time. He now holds three engineering-related licenses and numerous certifications.

His expertise was in monitoring and maintaining the building automation and medical gas systems, fire alarm and sprinkler systems, and the nurse paging system.

But it wasn't all lines and systems. Niskanen enjoyed meeting actors Mary Tyler Moore and Timothy Hutton when they came to the hospital in 1980 to film, "Ordinary People." He made sure everything ran smoothly for them. The actors enjoyed him and his work so much, the vice president of Universal Studios invited Niskanen to have lunch with them.

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"I sat between Mary Tyler Moore and Timothy Hutton and what an honor that was," Niskanen said. "I told her I loved my job and she said 'That is so nice.' And Timothy Hutton was more talkative. I loved it."

In later years, he often escorted players for the Chicago Blackhawks, Bulls and Bears, whenever they visited patients. Even former President George Bush Sr. stopped in.

"The week before (Bush's arrival) the Secret Service interviewed me because I knew the building inside out," he said. "So they did a background check on me and gave me a special lapel pin to wear. I handled their communication system, but couldn't talk about it until he left."

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While celebrity visits were fun, he enjoyed getting to know his co-workers better. Now that 50 years have passed and he officially retired, he isn't stopping. He will work part time at the hospital while he fulfills some things on his bucket list, he said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

He loves photography, skiing, riding the rapids, tennis and activities at church. His dream also includes a "Top Gun" movie experience where he would ride behind a pilot in a real F-14 fighter jet.

"I want to do that by the end of the summer," he said.

He also wants to travel, perhaps to Las Vegas, Hawaii and Europe.

"I cannot see myself settling in front of the TV," he said.

FastTracks

Erica Wiegel, president and owner of ARO Metal Stamping Inc. in Roselle, said the company has received national certification as a Women's Business Enterprise by the Women's Business Development Center Chicago, a regional certifying partner of the Women's Business Enterprise National Council. Also, Wiegel was a panelist in the first "Championing Women in Manufacturing" event held at UI Labs/Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute recently in Chicago. The event connected women who work in manufacturing.

Jay DeMerit came last week to BP in Naperville to share his rise from growing up in Wisconsin to becoming an international soccer star and TEDx Vancouver speaker. BP is sponsoring him for the Olympics. ... Kevin L. Moffitt of Glen Ellyn is the new chief risk officer and will lead MB Financial Bank's Risk Management Group.

Grant Johnson and Brandon Stahl are the new project engineers and Matt Taylor is the new GIS technician at Engineering Enterprises Inc. in Sugar Grove. ... Peter Caliendo of Hoffman Estates and host of the Inside Pitch Baseball Coaches Show was recently interviewed on the David Jackson podcast. ... Frances Simons, a broker with Baird & Warner in the Libertyville area, is co-host of a radio show on 560 AM.

Paul Proano is a new broker with Century 21 Kreuser & Seiler in Libertyville and will specialize in Lake and Cook counties. ... David L. Currotto has joined Cantigny Park and Cantigny Golf in Wheaton as food and beverage director. ... Attorneys David Haskins and Phil Lorenz have joined the Law Offices of David Guy Stevens LLC in Aurora. ... Chief Development Officer Henry Tobie has joined the DuPage Medical Group in Downers Grove.

• There's more to business than just the bottom line. We want to tell you about the people that make business work. Send news about people in business to akukec@dailyherald.com. Follow Anna Marie Kukec on LinkedIn and Facebook and as AMKukec on Twitter.

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