UPDATE: Outpouring of Love, Condolences for Longtime Elgin Councilman Robert Gillliam, 69

UPDATE: Outpouring of Love, Condolences for Longtime Elgin Councilman Robert Gillliam, 69

The Elgin community is mourning the death of Robert Gilliam, 69, beloved longtime Elgin councilman and educator.

The outpouring of love and respect over the past days has been evident in the news articles, city posts and social media that serve the Elgin community. He was taken too soon and will be dearly missed.

According to an obituary by Laird Family Funeral Services, visitation will be held from 4 p.m. to  9 p.m. Monday, Jan. 5, at the Second Baptist Church, 1280 Summit St., Elgin, and again from 10 a.m. until the time of the funeral service at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 6, at the church. Burial will be private. For more information, contact Laird Funeral Home, Elgin, at 847-741-8800 or www.lairdfamilyfuneralservices.com.


From the City of Elgin

It is with a heavy heart that the city of Elgin announces the passing of Robert Gilliam, a lifelong Elgin resident and the city’s longest serving councilmember. Gilliam passed away on the morning of Dec. 30, 2014, at the age of 69. He served on Elgin’s City Council for 40 years, from 1973 to 2013.

The Elgin City Council voted unanimously to honor Gilliam’s leadership and commitment to public service by renaming city hall and the civic plaza to The Robert Gilliam Municipal Complex, marked by a dedication ceremony in September 2014. Gilliam’s 40 years on city council is the longest tenure of a councilperson in Illinois outside of Chicago.

Under Robert Gilliam’s leadership, the city of Elgin undertook several major projects to ensure the safety of employees and residents and the continued delivery of services, including the construction of the police station, Leo Nelson Water Treatment Facility, fire stations 6 and 7, among many others. Gilliam’s creativity and perseverance to negotiate intricate and exciting projects have added tremendous value to our community such as construction of the Centre of Elgin, Festival Park, The Highlands and Bowes Creek Golf Courses and the Riverside Promenade.

In the 40 years that Gilliam was involved in the budget, he helped guide the city through several recessions. During his tenure on city council, he improved the city’s credit rating to AAA, (the best municipal rating in the country) thus providing the city an enviable level of fiscal stability.

“Bob’s tenure as city councilman was marked by extraordinary accomplishments, all unified by the goal of making Elgin the best community for future generations to enjoy,” said Sean Stegall, city manager. “His perseverance and dedication were unmatched. I am honored to have worked under the leadership of such an incredible man.”

Gilliam’s legacy is his calm and reasoned leadership paired with a personal style that is compassionate and kind. Through the years, Gilliam led the city with a steady hand and eye towards the long term and his wisdom and foresight were a reassuring force in Elgin city government. His determination helped lead the city through the difficult decades of the 1970s and 1980s to a period of unprecedented growth and revitalization and remained committed to nurturing and restoring the city’s older neighborhoods and serving the needs of a culturally diverse community.

On numerous occasions, Gilliam expressed his pride in the construction of the Leo Nelson Water Treatment Facility. Gilliam worked with then city manager Leo Nelson, and his colleagues on the city council, to advocate for the construction of the Riverside Water Treatment Plant. True to character, Gilliam looked ahead to the future needs of the community instead of reacting to current political pressures. He knew that making Elgin independent from relying on Chicago and using the Fox River to provide the water supply would in future years help Elgin attract new businesses and development and provide a guaranteed and unlimited quality supply of clean, reliable water to its residents.

Gilliam is a former School District U-46 employee who retired in 2002 after 34 years of service in a variety of capacities, including as a teacher, dean of students, personnel assistant, and assistant superintendent. He was also a commissioner of the Elgin Housing Authority for 25 years, from 1988 through 2013. He is survived by his wife, Marianne, and their two children.

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From Facebook Page ‘You Know You Are From Elgin When …’

  • I remember him from my high school days (graduating in 1975) as a fair man that I respected. Sorry for the loss to the community. He will be remembered.
  • An extraordinary servant leader. May his example be remembered and followed.
  •  Mr. Gilliam was my gym teacher many years ago. Sad to hear of his passing, but wonderful to hear about his many accomplishments!
  • Mr. Gilliam was my gym teacher many years ago. Sad to hear of his passing, but wonderful to hear about his many accomplishments!
  • I remember him from Elgin High. Really liked him. Prayers to his family.
  • May Bob Rest In Peace. He truly was a great man.
  • My greatest sympathy to all family members and friends. He has touched many lives and will be missed. Keeping all in my prayers.
  • My Mom worked with him during the ’70s. Very nice man, condolences to his family.
  • Elgin has lost an icon!! Prayers are with the family!!
  • First met Bob in his U46 position…he was an upright and respected man in every position he served. Prayers to his loved ones and all those saddened by the obvious.
  • He was a man of conscience. Can’t be said for a lot of people. My condolences to his family and friends who are grieving.
  • Thank you Bob for all the gifts you gave to Elgin and to the many people who had the opportunity to work with and learn from you.
  • He was a wonderful man … My sympathy goes out to his family.
  • Yes, thanks, Bob, you are a rock