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Wilmette resident Marvin Wortell, 100, died peacefully on Saturday, May 4, surrounded by family. In the 1970s, Chicago manufacturer, Marvin Wortell, traveled to Washington D.C. for a meeting with the Secretary of the Treasury to discuss Japanese “dumping” of electronics in the U.S. When he proposed enacting sanctions and tariffs to level the playing field, he was told that, because of the America’s Cold War treaty with Japan, the State and Defense Departments set trade policy, and that it was important to favor the Japanese.
Unfazed, the industry leader remained committed to fighting for American manufacturing interests for decades to come. At one time Crain’s Chicago Business labelled him the “Guru of Small Business.”
Born in 1918 in Michigan City, Indiana, Wortell and his family moved to Chicago when he was 11-years-old. At 19, his father was suddenly incapacitated, leaving his son the sole wage earner for the family.
With perseverance and luck he landed a job as a tool and die apprentice. At the same time, in order to gain knowledge about business and the world, Wortell spent most evenings in class at the Amour Institute of Technology, now IIT. (Later in life, he would give lectures on two of his favorite topics: how to deal with banks and what it takes to start a business.)
Recognizing his potential, Wortell’s boss transferred him to the company’s engineering department as an intern, where he learned about manufacturing processes.
After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor Wortell tried to enlist in the army. He was told by the draft board, however, that he was better off making metal parts at home for the war effort.
Years later, at a Chicago hotel dance, Wortell eyed a charming blond on the dance floor and boldly cut in. “I knew she was the one right away.” Esther Gerber and Marvin Wortell married in 1951 and eventually settled in Wilmette, where they raised four children.
During this time, Wortell recognized a market for electronic radio chassis for the booming consumer electronics business. An industry acquaintance supported his idea and funded Wortell with a business loan.
In 1961, Wortell founded Triton Industries. With borrowed money and his meager savings, he bought equipment to manufacture chassis and purchased a 24,000 square-foot building one block north of Wrigley Field. The business took off and a handful of employees soon grew to several hundred, eventually moving to the current 100,000 square-foot facility on Chicago’s West Side.
Over the years, Triton Industries manufactured units for the medical, office and military markets and was an early supplier for fax machines, GPS and the copy machine industry. Triton also played a key role in designing the truck and transportation signage industry.
While demand for Triton’s products increased, Wortell found it increasingly difficult to find qualified workers, even with minimum skills.
“Up until recently, there were only two ways to get trained people. Steal them or make them,” he said. “There was no formal training in schools for the evolving technology of manufacturing. Trade school teachers were woefully behind in their knowledge of state-of-the art manufacturing.”
As one of the founders of the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS), in 1993 Wortell led the charge for a comprehensive curriculum for community college manufacturing departments.
“With the support of industry leaders like Marvin Wortell, we now have an infrastructure with standards in place to develop trained people to meet industry needs,” said Stephen C. Mandes, former executive director of NIMS.
In 1998, Illinois Institute of Technology honored Wortell as Manufacturer of the Year for his contributions to manufacturing education.
In addition to NIMS, Wortell has served as chairman of the Precision Metalforming Association, Tooling and Manufacturing Association and the Alliance of Manufacturing Industries. He also served on the board of the Illinois Manufacturing Association and as chairman of the local Chicago Boys and Girls Club for two years.
Wortell retired from Triton Industries in 2005, handing over the helm to his son Brent.
In retirement, Wortell fully engaged his recreational passions: sailing with family on Lake Michigan aboard his forty-foot sloop, Sea Triton, communing with fellow Jaguar auto enthusiasts, collecting nautical artifacts and sculpting wood in his backyard shop.
Also in his retirement, Wortell served on the board of the Chicago Maritime Society. With a voluntary group, he succeeded in creating a temporary museum at Jackson and Racine to display the society’s nautical artifacts collection. His efforts led to the current museum, which opened in June of 2016 in the Bridgeport Art Center.
Wortell is survived by his wife of 68 years, Esther Gerber Wortell, his four children, Susie (Rob) Uppole, Brent Wortell, Janet (Michael Seigle) and Holly Wortell. Grandfather of Rachel Wortell, Becca (Andrew) Bloom, Joe Wortell, Danny Seigle, Davide Seigle and Jeremy Seigle.
New Trier graduate Dave Anderson, a devoted family man and industrial real estate broker, died May 8 at the age of 63 in Dallas, after a three-year battle with pancreatic cancer.
He is survived by the love of his life, Carol Zielinski Anderson, his wife of 33 years, and his devoted children, his son Patrick James Anderson (Sarah Baccich Anderson) and his daughter Jaclyn Welty Anderson.
Anderson was born to Gordon C. Anderson and Marjorie Welty Anderson and raised in Northfield. He was the youngest of six and treasured special times with his siblings and lifelong friends. He attended New Trier West High School and enrolled at Southern Methodist University in 1973. During his time at SMU, Anderson received a BBA in Marketing and was the vice president of the Kappa Alpha Order fraternity. SMU was the cornerstone to building his career.
Upon graduating SMU, Anderson joined Bethlehem Steel Corp., where he worked in sales for six years in Bethlehem, Pa., New York City and Shreveport, La. Deciding on a career change Dave found his life’s calling at Coldwell Banker, the predecessor to CBRE, in Dallas in 1984. His business pursuits were completely fulfilled by CBRE as he remained there for 35 years, transacting an impressive 100 million square feet of industrial space and selling 10,000 acres for development of 150 million square feet. Anderson attained the honorary title of vice chairman, an accolade which is achieved by less than one percent of CBRE’s producers. He received many notable awards such as being the only five-time winner of NAIOP’s North Texas Industrial Broker of the Year. At CBRE, he achieved the Colbert Coldwell Circle Award for top three percent national producers 11 times and is the only broker nationally to win both the highest individual award, the Edward S. Gordon Memorial Award for creativity in solving clients business needs and the top industrial award and the Dave Haggerty Award for teamwork and leadership. Dallas Business Journal and D CEO both honored him with their Lifetime Achievement Award, and he was recently honored with a road named after him, Anderson Way.
More important to Anderson than his career successes were his lifelong friendships that he cherished, those going back to Northfield, SMU, Bethlehem Steel, Dallas and CBRE which included peers, clients, competitors, and many others. For those who stayed close to him during his battle he was truly thankful.
In addition to his immediate family, he is survived by his loving siblings Karen and Mike O’Brien, James and Trisha Anderson, Christine and Dave Chadwick, Tom Anderson, William and Brit Anderson, his brother-in-law Tom Zielinski and his fiancé Nancy Buschel and all his caring nieces, nephews and their beautiful children.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the David J. Anderson Endowed MBA Scholarship Fund in the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University, P.O. Box 750333, Dallas, TX 75275 or visit www.smu.edu/coxgiving or The Louis Zielinski Scholarship Fund, c/o Jesuit College Prep. 12345 Inwood Rd, Dallas TX 75244 or https://www.jesuitcp.org/memorial gifts.
Robert Jerome Dunne
Dunne, a Loyola graduate, was born on Sept. 26, 1937 and died on Tuesday, May 7. Dunne was a resident of Ashland, Wis. at the time of passing. He graduated in 1955 from Loyola Academy. No formal services will be held at this time, instead memorials may be made in Dunne’s name to the League of Women Voters of Ashland and Bayfield counties, (LWV/ABC) and mailed to PO Box 175, Ashland, WI 54806.
James A. “Jim” Geppert
James A. “Jim” Geppert, 86, a Wilmette native, magician and retired patent attorney, died at Glenbrook Hospital March 19 in the presence of family. Born on Oct. 10, 1932 to Carl F. and Beatrice “Bee” (Emrick) Geppert, he grew up in Wilmette and graduated from New Trier High School in 1950, having participated in the annual Gilbert and Sullivan productions and diving on the swim team. He was a member of Men Off Campus (MOC) at Northwestern University, earning a Chemical Engineering degree. Geppert worked in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office while attending law school at George Washington University in Washington D.C, where he met and married his wife of 61 years, Marian (Lory), at Foundry Methodist Church. Geppert joined his father’s Chicago patent law firm and settled in Glenview. He retired from Borg-Warner Corporation in 1988. Geppert’s other career in magic began at an early age. He brought enchanted moments to countless children and adults and enjoyed practicing, reading about, and attending lectures on magic. He was a past president of Harlan E. Tarbell Ring 43 of the International Brotherhood of Magicians (IBM), a member of Assembly 148 of the Society of American Magicians (SAM), the Mazda Mystic Ring, and The Magic Circle (London), and spent many vacations attending magic conventions in the U.S. and Europe. Geppert was dedicated to his community and church, volunteering as Cub Scout Pack Master (Glenview Pack 256), Little League manager, high school sports and music booster, Bethel Bible study and confirmation instructor, liturgical assistant, and bass in the choir at Trinity Lutheran Church in Evanston. He received a Vision Keeper Award for years of service to Elijah’s Pantry in Logan Square, serving on the board and delivering food from the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Beloved husband of Marian, father of Carl R. (Barbara) and Martha, grandfather of Carrie (Glen) Goodner, David (Kailey), and Annie (John) Hickerson, and great-grandfather of Reid, Cade, and Jalen. He was preceded in death by his parents and his older brother Carl L., who was killed in World War II. A memorial service is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday, May 18, at Trinity Lutheran Church, 3637 Golf Road, Evanston, IL 60203. His ashes will be scattered in the Trinity Memorial Garden following the service. Memorial donations to Trinity Lutheran Church (TrinityEvanston.org) or to the Greater Chicago Food Depository, 4100 W Ann Lurie Place, Chicago, IL 60632 (chicagosfoodbank.org) would be appreciated.
Have someone’s life you’d like to honor? Email Michael Wojtychiw at email@example.com with information about a loved one who was part of the Wilmette/Kenilworth community.