Published in Midwest Flyer Magazine June/July 2021
William H. Grady (1923-2021), longtime airport manager at what is now Chicago/Rockford International Airport (KRFD) in Rockford, Illinois, died at his home on March 14, 2021. He was 97.
Grady worked for more than three decades for the Greater Rockford Airport Authority. He was the airport authoritys executive director for 10 years before retiring in 1988. During his tenure, Grady oversaw the construction of the airport’s modern terminal building.
A loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, Grady was also a World War II veteran, a proud alumnus of the University of Notre Dame and a devout Catholic, who was one of the first lay lectors at St. James Catholic Church in Belvidere after Vatican II.
In 1941, Grady went off to Notre Dame, but his college education was interrupted by World War II. He served three years in the U.S. Army Air Forces as a radar counter-measures specialist before returning to Notre Dame and graduating in 1948. He was active in – and a former officer of – the Great Lakes Chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE), a former member of the board of OSF St. Anthony Medical Center in Rockford and served for 15 years on the finance council at St. Rita Catholic Church in Rockford. He was also elected to six terms as city treasurer of Belvidere. In the 1950s and 1960s, Grady was active in the Belvidere Little League organization as a coach, umpire and league official.
“I recall that Bill had quite a sense of humor, always enlivening Illinois Public Airport Association (IPAA) meetings!” said former Southern Illinois University (SIU) Professor, Dr. David NewMyer. “Bill taught Aviation Management programs for SIU-Carbondale off-campus for quite a number of years. Looking at all of his church, community (especially Little League), and airport-related involvement, I am not sure how he managed to travel all over the country teaching for us in North Carolina, Arizona, Colorado, California, and elsewhere, and he seemed to successfully accomplish this long list of “To Dos” in an effortless manner.”
Though raised in Belvidere, Grady was born on August 8, 1923, on his grandfather’s farm in rural Dane County near Oregon, Wis. He was married for more than 67 years to Patricia Schmitz Grady, who died in 2015. He was also predeceased by a daughter, Mary Elizabeth “Lisa” Grady; his brother, David D. Grady; and his sister Mary Elizabeth Gericke.
Survivors include three sons, William R. (Pamela), Timothy E. (Pamela), and John P.; two daughters, Ann G. (Charles) Bown and Maureen G. (Mark) Himmel; and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.