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September 10, 2015 12:00 PM, EDT

Chester Stranczek, Former ATA Chairman, Dies at 85

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Chester Stranczek, founder of Cresco Lines and a former chairman of American Trucking Associations, died Sept. 5. He was 85.

Stranczek founded Cresco Lines in 1966 and named the company after his hometown of Crestwood, Illinois. He served as the 1990-1991 chairman of ATA.

“As ATA chairman, I am going to go around the country with my wife and talk about trucking and truck safety and try to improve our image in the eyes of the American public,” Stranczek told Transport Topics in a 1990 interview.

He got his start in the trucking industry in 1959 hauling steel for Allied Tube and Conduit. When the company had difficulties delivering pipe to customers, he invented a machine to ease the process. Called a “kangaroo,” his device is part forklift, part crane that rides on the trailer to offload steel.

Cresco remains a family business with Stranczek’s sons, Robert and Michael, serving as president and chief operating officer, respectively.

Stranczek also served as mayor of Crestwood for 38 years, from 1969 until August 2007.

A veteran of the Korean War, Stranczek played on the Army’s baseball team headquartered in Tokyo and later went on to play with the Burlington Bees in Iowa before joining the Baton Rouge Red Sticks in Louisiana.

Stranczek received an honorary degree from Canisius College in Buffalo, New York, at the school’s commencement in 2001. He donated $1 million to the school in 2002 to renovate an athletic center. He donated another $1 million in 2007 to create an interdisciplinary science center at the college.

He is survived by his wife, Diane, and sons.