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Retired Steger fire captain, ‘loved by everyone,’ killed in hit-and-run

Leonard Bottando retired Steger fire captakilled Monday hit-and-run accident | Supplied photo

Leonard Bottando, a retired Steger fire captain killed Monday in a hit-and-run accident | Supplied photo

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Updated: December 14, 2012 6:16AM



A retired Steger fire captain killed in a hit-and-run accident was remembered Monday as a “well-loved, all-around great guy” by those who knew him and worked with him.

Leonard Bottando, 70, of Steger, died early Monday after being struck Sunday night by a vehicle in the 1300 block of Main Street in Crete, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

His sudden death has left his family and friends in shock, Assistant Fire Chief Nowell Fillion said.

“He will be sorely missed,” he said.

“It’s just a shame the way it happened,” said Steger Fire Chief Jeff Roesner, who worked with Bottando for 20 years.

Bottando was hit as he exited a coffeehouse with a friend and crossed the street to reach his car, Fillion said.

The incident — which police are investigating as a reckless homicide — occurred at 8 p.m. Sunday, Crete police said.

Bottando was pronounced dead at 12:18 a.m. Monday at St. James Hospital in Chicago Heights, the medical examiner’s office said.

Crete police are looking for a Chevrolet utility vehicle with front-end damage. Video from local businesses is being reviewed in an attempt to identify the vehicle.

Services for Bottando will be from 3 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Steger Memorial Chapel, 3045 Chicago Road, with a service at 7:30 p.m., Fillion said.

Bottando, who worked for the Steger fire department for about 30 years, “was the kind of guy who would give you the shirt off his back,” Roesner said.

After retiring about 12 or 13 years ago, Bottando continued to work for the village inspecting new building construction, and inspecting businesses and residences before re-occupancy, until 2007, Fillion said. He then began working as a driver for a rental car company, a job he still had.

Bottando also was retired from the Air Force Reserves, where he served from 1963-2002, Fillion said. He also worked as a Local Union 9 electrician for the Chicago Transit Authority from 1967 to 1995, Fillion said.

Bottando always was very active.

“He retired from a lot of things, but he never retired from fun,” Fillion said.

In 1976, Bottando bought an old gas station in the 3400 block of Chicago Road in Steger, Fillion said. About two years ago, it was converted to include a used car dealership.

“He was loved by everyone. He couldn’t make an enemy if he tried,” Fillion said. “There was never a dull moment with him. He was always there for you, always made you laugh.”

Bottando, a widower, is survived by three adult children, Michael, Natalie and Wendy, and one grandchild.

Anyone with information on the accident should contact Crete police at (708) 672-0911.

Contributing: Sun-Times Media Wire



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