Longtime Itasca public works director dies at 58
Less than three months after his retirement, former Itasca public works Director Ross Hitchcock died of a heart attack Thursday at age 58.
Hitchcock retired in early February after nearly 40 years of working for Itasca, during which he mentored and advised a generation of employees and new leaders, according to Itasca officials. He lived in Roselle until his death and is survived by his wife Eva, their children Tracey and Alex, and his siblings Laura Jurey and Bill Hitchcock.
"Whether you walk, ride or drive through town, Ross's imprint is everywhere," Mayor Jeff Pruyn said in a statement. "His death leaves our community with a deep feeling of sorrow for the loss of such an honored and respected employee. The village extends our heartfelt condolences to Ross's wife Eva and his entire family as they mourn this incredible loss of a truly unique and wonderful man."
Hitchcock grew up in Itasca and began his career with the village in 1981 as a maintenance worker. Over the years, he would later work as foreman, general foreman, and finally as public works director beginning in 2007.
Hitchcock was notable for his laugh, which his wife Eva described as infectious and heartwarming. She said he was a loving father and guardian of his family who enjoyed world history and baseball and was always punctual.
"Ross always made sure we were in the best position possible," Eva said. "He wanted to make sure that everyone was safe. He was someone who just wanted to be happy to the fullest."
During his tenure, Hitchcock was credited for assisting in the design and construction of the current wastewater treatment plant, the move of the public works facility, and the village's curb and gutter program.
Notably, Hitchcock managed the public works responses to natural disasters such as a 2011 snowstorm that left many residents without power and a microburst in 2017 that took down trees and utility poles and caused flooding and power outages. During these weather extremes, Pruyn praised Hitchcock and public works for helping the village through the storms.
"Ross was a true public servant," Village Administrator Carie Anne Ergo said. "Not only did he dedicate his career to serving the people of Itasca, he continued to contribute his time and talents to make our community a better place even after his retirement. Ross touched the lives of so many people. I will personally miss his hearty laugh and sly sense of humor."
Pruyn ordered flags at all village buildings to be flown at half-staff through Monday in Hitchcock's memory.