Airport conference room to be dedicated to late Prospect Heights mayor

  • Nick Helmer

      Nick Helmer Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer, 2019

Updated 3/30/2022 4:46 PM

The conference room at Chicago Executive Airport, where the late Prospect Heights Mayor Nick Helmer previously served for 14 years as his city's representative on the board of directors, will be dedicated in his name at the board's April 20 meeting.

A love of aviation led Helmer to serve on the airport board before his successful run for mayor in 2011.


Since 1986, Chicago Executive Airport has been co-owned by the two municipalities in which it lies, Prospect Heights and Wheeling.

More than halfway through his third mayoral term, Helmer died Jan. 26 at the age of 79, after a brief hospitalization for complications suffered from a fall during an ice storm.

If and when the main building at Chicago Executive Airport is ever replaced, the naming honor would be carried over to the conference room of the new facility, Executive Director Jeffrey Miller said.

"He was such a proponent of a new building," Miller said of Helmer.

The board of directors' meeting at which the ceremonial dedication will take place is scheduled for 6 p.m. April 20, at 1020 S. Plant Road in Wheeling.

Like every other meeting, it will be open to the public. But specific invitations are being sent to Helmer's family, Prospect Heights aldermen and Wheeling trustees, Miller said.

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While it's become something of a common practice for airports to name their meeting rooms to honor someone important to their histories, Helmer's name won't be displacing anyone else's, Miller added.

At Helmer's funeral in early February, his son Nick Jr. explained that his father had been born into a middle-class family in Yugoslavia in September 1942, but spent most of his preschool years in a communist detention camp there.

The family escaped to America after enlisting aid from relatives in Austria, the younger Helmer said. The first chocolate bar his father ever had was given to him by a U.S. serviceman during that passage, he added.

The future mayor would later interrupt his college education to spend three years in the U.S. Army, serving as a newspaper reporter, photographer and radio broadcaster for the Central France area and becoming a true Francophile, his son said.

By profession, Helmer was a Certified Property Manager and a licensed real estate broker. He had served as a director of Inland Bank, with his primary focus being the marketing of the bank's real estate services.

Prospect Heights 5th Ward Alderman Matthew Dolick has been appointed to serve as acting mayor through April 2023, when he said he intends to run for the 5th Ward post again rather than mayor.

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