(Photo provided by Warmowski Photography)
WLDS’ “What’s On Your Mind?” program was dedicated to the lasting legacy of former Jacksonville Mayor Ron Tendick this morning.
Tendick passed away Sunday afternoon at Passavant Area Hospital’s Transitional Care Unit at the age of 73.
Tendick’s well-known career in public service started in 1987, when he served as a Jacksonville alderman. Tendick would go on to be Jacksonville’s mayor for 20 years, officially retiring in 2009.
Current Jacksonville Mayor Andy Ezard noted the passing of Tendick is a “big blow” for the city.
“He was a historian and very active in the sports scene with the radio station and reporting. As a mayor, he was very active in the Illinois Municipal League. His love for Jacksonville is second to none,” Ezard says.
Ezard, who entered city government as a clerk, believes Tendick was instrumental for his future success.
“Really was patient with me and taught me the ins and outs of city government. I would pick his brain on things and he would give me his honest opinion. We didn’t always agree, but I cherish those talks we had together. We were friends before I became City Clerk. I always supported him and he supported me.”
Ezard complimented Tendick’s leadership during the economic downturn of the early 2000’s and credits the strong financial standing of Jacksonville to Tendick’s council.
If you weren’t hearing Tendick’s voice at City Council meetings, you were probably listening to him on the radio.
Tendick’s media career stretches nearly half a century, when he got his start as a reporter for WJIL. Years later, Tendick would join long-time friend and future co-owner of WLDS-WEAI Jerry Symons by becoming the assistant news director of the station in the 1970s.
Tendick would work his way up the ladder to news director, where he held that role until 1985.
WLDS-WEAI Sales Manager Mark Whalen reminisced on the impact Tendick had at the radio station.
“He had a perspective on everything and was one of the first guys you would call. Ron had the ability to come and see what you were facing and how you could consider handling it. It was a very calm demeanor. When he showed up he was a ray of sunshine. He was always in a good mood, wanted to know about the station, what is going on with your family and maybe some sports. He could talk to you about anything,” says Whalen.
Former WLDS-WEAI owner Don Hamilton looked back at the time he spent with Tendick and Symons throughout his long career in radio.
“I was the young pup for many years, because those two guys were teaching me how to do a lot of things right. We had some great times together. Going to Champaign and doing state tournament ball games was always a crown at the end of the season. Working with those guys, you couldn’t help but be better,” says Hamilton.
“He had a great love for his family and you couldn’t talk to them in recent years without hearing about him. He devoted 20 years of his life, and time before and after, to Jacksonville. I would like to think the radio station was his third love.”
Tendick would go on to broadcast sports on WLDS and WEAI until the winter of 2015.
In addition to his work with many local organizations, like Rotary, Tendick was a Public Relations Director at Passavant Area Hospital.
An accomplishment Tendick was particularly proud of was his honorary degree from Illinois College in 2004.
Funeral arrangements are pending at Buchanan & Cody Funeral Home in Jacksonville.
The program featured multiple calls from community members sharing memories of Tendick. To hear, click below.