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Deaths of former state senator and his wife separated by days

Tina and Ed Nedza. | Family photo

She was a homemaker, focused on friends and family.

He was a natural Chicago politician.

Together, they raised two children and retired in LaGrange. And then, about two weeks apart, former state Sen. Edward Nedza and his wife, Ernestine “Tina” Nedza, died peacefully at home. He was 90, and she was 83.

Edward Nedza died on Jan. 24 from complications from pneumonia. Ernestine Nedza died on Feb. 6 from a variety of ailments, including organ failure.

Edward Nedza served in the Navy and was stationed in China during the years after World War II, said Kathy Buhe, his daughter. He later served in various roles on the city payroll under several administrations, bookended by mayors Richard J. Daley and Richard M. Daley.

Tina Nedza. | Family photo

During the blizzard of 1979, he served as first deputy commissioner of the Department of Aviation under Mayor Michael Bilandic.

Nedza was a political protege of Ald. Thomas E. Keane, at the time a powerful alderman from the 31st Ward.

“Dad was just a natural in politics,” Buhe said. “He started out as a helper for a precinct captain and it just meshed well with his personality and he worked his way up.”

For years he served as 31st Ward Democratic Committeeman, a position currently held by Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios, who was a close friend, Buhe said.

“Joe will probably give the eulogy at my dad’s funeral,” she said.

Ed Nedza also served in the Illinois Senate. | Family photo

Nedza began serving as a Democratic state senator in 1978, while, at the same time, retaining his employment with the city. He was unseated in 1986 by Miguel Del Valle following a shift in voters in his Northwest Side district from Polish to Hispanic.

In 1987, Nedza was sentenced to eight years in prison for muscling into a part ownership of a flea market in the 31st Ward. A jury convicted him of extortion, conspiracy, racketeering and tax fraud.

The indictment was part of a federal investigation into the city’s system for licensing businesses and enforcing codes that resulted in dozens of convictions.

Buhe said her father’s indictment was politically motivated by a federal government under a Republican administration.

“All I can say is that I recently have been talking to a lot of people and a law professor at John Marshall (Law School) who’s a friend who reviewed the transcripts of the case and said my dad was railroaded for political reasons and we agree,” Buhe said. “So that’s all we have to say about it.”

She said her father was surrounded by friends at his 90th birthday party. She called him “a wonderful father and a great friend.”

“He was a really great and true loyal friend to people and just a wonderful father and husband,” Buhe said.

The couple is also survived by a son, Jim Nedza, two grandchildren and one great grandchild.

Visitation is will be 3 to 9 p.m. Feb. 18 from at Hallowell and James Funeral Home in Countryside. Funeral services will be at 9:30 a.m. Feb. 19 at St. Cletus Catholic Church in Countryside.