-Released by the City of Rockford-
Rockford, IL - Elected officials and staff members of the City of Rockford were today saddened to learn that Bill Robertson, Alderman of the 14th Ward (I) and retired City of Rockford Fire Chief had passed away this morning at approximately 5:30 a.m. By late morning, flags at City Hall, the Fire Administration Building, the PSB and fire stations throughout the city had been lowered to half-staff as news spread throughout the organization that “the City family has lost a council leader this morning with the passing of Alderman & Retired Fire Chief Bill Robertson. “
Alderman Robertson was elected as an Independent to the 14th Ward seat in 2009 and was known as a passionate speaker who worked diligently to insure that the needs of both his ward and the city as a whole were met. Though he was elected as an Independent, Alderman Robertson was the chairperson of the Democratic Caucus; where his passion for strong local government allowed him to build strong relationships in both parties.
Fourth Ward Alderman Carl Wasco (D) who counted Bill Robertson as both a fellow Alderman and a friend, stated today: “The city has lost a great leader. We’ve lost a great friend. His wife and family have lost a great husband, father, grandfather. We will truly miss Bill.”
Alderman Doug Mark of the city’s Third Ward and leader of the Republican caucus echoed Alderman Wasco’s words. “Bill Robertson was truly a great individual and friend. He was committed to his family, community, fire department and city council. His service to others and love of the City of Rockford will be greatly missed and he will always be remembered as a great leader. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this time.”
Alderman Robertson began his career as an elected official after his retirement from his position as the city’s fire chief in April of 2008. Beginning his tenure as Chief on August 6, 1991, Bill Robertson had led the department through advances that allowed the Rockford Fire Department to receive several awards of distinction. In sharing his thoughts on his career with the Rockford Fire Department, Chief Robertson was always quick to point out that the men and women in his department “Do a fantastic job of keeping our citizens as the focus of their attention.”
Bill Robertson believed strongly in the traditions and legacy of the Rockford Fire Department. He was proud of the department’s many accomplishments and maintained close ties with his fellow retirees as well as with current Fire Chief Derek Bergsten who stated: “The passing of Alderman Bill Robertson is a terrible loss for his wife Susan, daughters and entire family. He was dedicated to the community in his role of Fire Chief and as a member of the Rockford Fire Department for 37 years and as an Alderman. Our thoughts go out to his entire family in this time of great sorrow.”
Alderman Robertson, a Rockford native and East High School graduate, received his Associates of Art Degree from Rock Valley College and his Bachelor of Science degree from Southern Illinois University. After serving in the United States Marine Corp, Chief Robertson joined the Rockford Fire Department in 1972. He worked his way through the department, serving in all ranks and many positions including Inspector in the Fire Prevention Division; Driver/Engineer; Lieutenant and Captain. In February of 1990, Robertson assumed command of the Training Academy where he was promoted to District Chief and stayed at that assignment until his promotion to Chief of the Fire Department.
Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey recognized the loss to the community in his words during an interview earlier today. "Chief Robertson had a tremendous impact on the outstanding culture of customer service and community support that is the hallmark of the Rockford Fire Department. Under Chief Robertson's leadership, he raised education and training standards, he drove paramedic certification for all firefighters, and he began the department's successful effort to become nationally accredited. He was an outstanding leader as a Fire Chief, as a Council member, and as a civic leader on many non-profit boards and community initiatives. He had a passion for his work, and he was a great communicator. He would always work to build consensus."
"Bill will be missed greatly. We extend our deepest sympathies to his family and friends at the City and throughout our community."
Funeral arrangements are pending.