Lawmakers Honor Longtime Rockford Legislator

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Stateliners honor the memory of a former Rockford lawmaker, as the state names a portion of Interstate 39 after Zeke Giorgi.

Local leaders and residents gathered at the Illinois Welcome Center to remember a statesman, a friend and a father.

"Zeke Giorgi is an icon. Zeke Giorgi was the dean of the house. Zeke Giorgi was the epitome of what a legislator should be," said Chuck Jefferson, Illinois Representative.

Zeke Giorgi represented Rockford for 28 years in Springfield. He was instrumental in the transformation of a hazardous US-51 into a modern highway.

"When I first heard of it, I thought how appropriate, how fitting. How deserving," said David Phelps, Illinois Dept. of Transportation.

Many say Giorgi brought a safe road for northwest Illinois drivers and also helped drive economic development in the Stateline.

"So Zeke not only did what he always did, helping individual people. But he also helped the entire area which he was famous for," said Doug Scott, Mayor of Rockford.

It was an emotional ceremony for Giorgi's widow Jo and his daughters who shared stories of the lawmaker.

"If my dad were here today, he might say as he did at David Park nine years ago: 'I'm appreciative that someone has observed what I'm doing. My family, my town, and god have been good to me,'" said Barbara Vella, Giorgi's daughter.

And many will say he was very good to them.

Giorgi passed away in 1993. He was first elected to the Illinois House in 1964 and was its longest serving member. During his 38-years of public service he played a leading role in building the Rockford Metro Centre, the Riverfront Museum Park, and bringing the Chrysler plant to the Stateline. Interstate 39 will bear his name from the Wisconsin-Illinois border to Route 88.