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Michael Victor Sr., former Schaumburg postmaster, dead at 66

Michael Victor Sr. and his wife Barb | Provided photo

Michael Victor Sr. and his wife Barb | Provided photo

Michael Victor Sr. probably purchased about 40 cars during his life.

Most weren’t even for him.

His friends and relatives didn’t like haggling with auto dealers, so he helped them by taking on the role of chief negotiator.

Not easily intimidated, Mr. Victor was “broad-shouldered like Chicago, with mitts the size of bear paws,” said his son, Mike Victor Jr.

He enjoyed the bargaining – even from his hospital bed at St. Alexius Medical Center in May, during the last week of his life.

“He was on his computer. He had asked the [nurses’s] aide to get him up. He loved negotiation,” said his sister Sally Turbov. “He told me, ‘I can get you a new car for pretty close to the same price’ as a used car.

“He said, ‘Email me a copy of the bill of sale, I want to go over it,’ ’’ he told her. And then he ticked off his instructions: “He said, ‘If the guy wants to add on the mats, or undercarriage (rustproofing), it’s no, no, no.’ ”

She and her husband wound up owning a new Buick Encore.

A week later, Mr. Victor, the former postmaster of Schaumburg, died of complications from congestive heart failure.

“He was my strength,” said Mike Victor Jr. When he suffered a disabling stroke four years ago at 31, “I lost the ability to talk and for a while I lost the ability to to write,’’ his son said. “I lost the use of my right side.”

His father urged him on to recovery. “He would tell me that I’m the strongest man that he knows,” his son said.

He looked up to his dad for his gentleness in addition to his strength.

Michael Victor Sr., former postmaster of Schaumburg, wore angel wings when he volunteered one Halloween at his parish, Church of the Holy Spirit in Schaumburg. | Provided photo

Once, while volunteering to teach catechism at Church of the Holy Spirit in Schaumburg at Halloween, Mr. Victor wore a set of angel’s wings that looked lilliputian on his broad back. He also volunteered at the parish food pantry.

“He always carried a wad of $2 bills because he knew it doesn’t take much to put a smile on somebody’s face,” his son said. He’d hand them out to panhandlers or someone he saw working hard on the street.

Sometimes, “He would send 100 flashlights to Misericordia” for the developmentally-disabled residents, said his wife Barb.

“He worked his way up from being a letter carrier with no college education to head of one of the biggest post offices in Illinois,” said his son. “He believed in service, hard work and kindness; kindness above everything.”

From 1991 to 2003, his son said, he was in charge of mail deliveries for Schaumburg–including busy Woodfield Mall–as well as Roselle and Hoffman Estates. As the area grew, he oversaw adding new zip codes.

Michael Victor as a baby with his mom Elizabeth and father Henry. | Provided photo  

He grew up in St. Gertrude’s parish in Edgewater.

His mother Elizabeth was from the lumber town of Nahma in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. In the final days of his life, a visit to Nahma figured in one of his favorite memories. He told his sister Sally he remembered “holding my hand. We had a nickel in our hands, and we were walking on the wooden sidewalks to the general store for candy,” she said.

Mr. Victor was proud of his family’s roots in Luxembourg. On Christmas Eve they ate Luxembourger sausages. He played baseball at a Northwest Side spot owned by a prominent Luxembourger family, Thillens Stadium.

At 12, he worked at a North Side bowling alley.

By 17, he was running a hot dog stand at Ridge and Peterson.

“The joke in our family was that his mom changed his diaper, gave him his bottle and he went to work,” said his wife.

Around 8th grade, his family moved to Evanston, where he attended St. George High School.

Barb and Michael Victor were married 45 years until his death. | Provided photo

Barb Victor said she met her future husband at a Jewel at Howard and Western when they were about 18. She was a checker and he worked in produce.

When they first married, they lived in Rolling Meadows, where he served two years as a police officer. They moved to Schaumburg in the early 1970s as urban sprawl exploded and Woodfield Mall became the biggest shopping mall in Illinois. He joined the Schaumburg post office in 1975.

In 1987, he became postmaster of St. Charles. They lived there three years.

He never lost the protector’s persona of an eldest child. If he saw somebody without a special permit pull into a parking spot for someone with a disability, he’d call authorities.

And he never stopped appreciating his wife. “He would send flowers. He would make dinner. He would like to surprise me with little gifts,” she said. “He always asked me, ‘Are you happy?’ ”

While visiting Sturgeon Bay in Door County, “He would go shopping with me even though he hated it–antique stores,” she said.

Mr. Victor is also survived by his son Matthew and brother Steven. Services have been held.