Jack Whisler, downtown Arlington Heights visionary, dies at 84
One of the visionaries behind the development of downtown Arlington Heights has died.
Jack Whisler was remembered Monday night at the Arlington Heights village board meeting for his years of service and lasting imprint on the community.
He died peacefully in his sleep on Monday, family members said. He was 84.
Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes described Whisler as a "prominent citizen," and one whose work as a developer and service on municipal commissions -- the Arlington Heights Economic Alliance, and chairman of the downtown master plan task force -- laid the groundwork "during our formative years as we were building out."
Hayes credited Whisler's vision to his vast experience in commercial real estate. Whisler founded Brian Properties in 1973, and over the years the company has developed more than 1 million square feet of shopping centers, office buildings, medical complexes and car care centers.
"Jack was one of the founders who had the vision of what downtown Arlington Heights would look like, for others to execute," Hayes said. "He and others are responsible for what Arlington Heights looks like today."
Arlington Heights was an adopted home for Whisler. He and his family moved to the village in 1952, when Whisler transferred into the former Arlington High School. It was there where he would meet his first wife, Joan.
The couple married in 1958, during Whisler's senior year at Indiana University. After graduating in 1959 with degrees in real estate and finance, the couple returned to Arlington Heights, where they raised their family, including children Susan, Robert, Michael and Scott.
Whisler worked for 13 years in residential and commercial real estate before incorporating Brian Properties, drawing on his middle name.
He quickly took on leadership roles in the business community, serving as director and ultimately president of the Northwest Suburban Association of Realtors. He also was as an investor and organizer in three community banking organizations, including First Northwest Bank, which later became Village Bank & Trust.
Colleagues point to Whisler's involvement with local civic organizations as having just as much of an impact on the village. He is a former president of the Rotary Club and local chapter of United Way, and served as a board member of the Lattof YMCA and Clearbrook Center.
"Jack was active in business, civic, and charitable life," said fellow Rotarian Robert Y. Paddock Jr.
Whisler married his second wife, Helen Jensen, in 2007. Both had been widowed and shared a common interest in their community of Arlington Heights. Jensen had served as the village nurse for 20 years before being elected to the village board in 1998.
Whisler retired from full-time duties at Brian Properties in 2010, leaving the day-to-day management to two of his sons, Bob and Scott, and most recently to a grandson, Mark Meskauskas. But he maintained an office and continued his interest in seeing the village prosper.
One of his last public appearances came when he and Jensen were the guests of honor at the dedication of the Whisler Family Lobby at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre. The lobby received a $120,000 upgrade funded in part through Whisler making the single largest donation in the theater's history.
"He couldn't say enough about what a tremendous asset to the village Metropolis was," said Neil Scheufler, the theater's major gifts and planned giving officer, "and then he put his money where his mouth was."
Whisler and his wife also made a major donation to the theater's marquee, which was added in 2020, putting its funding over the top.
"I raised my family here. My wife and I were very involved in community things," Whisler said at the lobby dedication. "I wanted to support the community and I think the theater is a draw for the downtown area in bringing culture into the community."
Services will be private.