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In Memoriam: Arthur J. (Art) Bilek

August 21, 2020
Arthur J. (Art) Bilek, who worked 60 years in law enforcement for Chicago and Illinois and who was the father of CATA staffer Mark Bilek, died Aug. 13. He was 90.
While growing up in Chicago, Mr. Bilek followed firefighters on calls, then took pictures of the fires and sold them to Chicago newspapers. After serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, he became a special investigator for the Cook County state’s attorney’s office. He later became the first Chicago police officer dedicated to stopping organized crime in the city.
Mr. Bilek worked to implement the world’s first Criminal Justice college curriculum, and he taught at several universities. He later led the Illinois Law Enforcement Commission, where he worked to improve local police departments and enact uniform requirements across the state.
After a series of break-ins and assaults at hotels across the country, hotelier Barron Hilton hired Mr. Bilek to become the world’s first security director for a major hotel chain. He later became vice president of product development and government affairs for the famed Pinkerton Corporation.
As recognition and appreciation for his six decades of contributions to law enforcement in the city and Illinois, Dec. 31, 2014 was proclaimed Arthur J. Bilek Day in Chicago.
In addition to Mark Bilek, survivors include his wife, Mary Ann; daughters Mary Lu and Judith; son Arthur III; 11 stepchildren; nine grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. Two wives, Angela and Ellen, preceded him in death. Memorials appreciated to the 100 Club of Chicago.