Former Chicago CFO Bedore remembered for more than simply steering city finances

BY SourceMedia | MUNICIPAL | 09/28/22 02:10 PM EDT By Yvette Shields

Edward Bedore steered Chicago's finances under both mayors with the Daley name, had a hand in milestone city projects and spearheaded creation of the Chicago Summer Business Institute to give inner city students an introduction to finance careers. He died earlier this month. He was 84.

Bedore served several stints with the city, first as budget director under Richard J. Daley. He remained with the city after Daley's death while in office when Michael J. Bilandic took office. A break came during the tenures of Harold Washington and Jane Byrne. During the break, he worked on the Chicago Transit Authority finance team.

Daley's son, Richard M. Daley, brought Bedore back after winning the office in 1989. Bedore served as budget director but was also among those considered Daley's inner circle of advisors.

"Talk about hitting the ground running," said Walter Knorr, who worked under Bedore as city comptroller and then inherited the CFO post after Bedore's retirement in 1995. The city was facing a $150 million hole when the second Daley took office. "Ed had such a real knowledge of the city, not just the budget but the operations that was really incomparable. He was a real asset to the city."

Richard M. Daley established the chief financial officer's position in 1991 to give Bedore a broader role beyond day-to-day budget operations to focus on bigger picture endeavors, as well as working on financial turnarounds at several of the troubled sister agencies.

Knorr considered Bedore his mentor. "I made mistakes but Ed was very helpful in correcting my mistakes," said Knorr, who later left the city and then retired in 2017 as CFO at the University of Illinois. "He really watched out for me. He was my mentor and I learned so much about the city from him."

During Bedore's tenure, the city laid the groundwork to take back control in 1995 of the Chicago Public Schools, which had come under state oversight after a near fiscal collapse in the late 1970s, and he developed the financial plan to build Millennium Park,now a key downtown destination attraction.

"He was sharp as a tack and really knew finances, all the city agencies, inside and out. He was always the adult in the room and incredibly loyal to the mayor and to the mayor's vision of beautifying the city," said Ray Kljajic, a managing director at American Public Infrastructure LLC, who worked on Chicago deals during his time leading public finance for the Midwest at Smith Barney, now known as Citigroup (C/PN).

Elizabeth Coolidge, head of public finance for the Midwest region at UBS Financial Services, credited Bedore with expanding the city's finance teams beyond the big Wall Street firms. She landed her firm a senior-managed deal while working early in her career at a women-owned firm. "He was committed to diversity when it wasn't fashionable," Coolidge said.

Knorr, who had done a stint on the city's financial team during previous administration, said it was Bedore who redirected the money that often would be spent on lavish deal-closing dinners and instead told the deal teams to direct it to charities that the city favored.

Richard M. Daley relied on Bedore after his 1995 retirement, asking him to serve as project manager for the makeover of Soldier Field.

A lasting legacy for Bedore is the thriving Chicago Summer Business Institute which was established in 1991, market participants said.

"Ed Bedore was the catalyst for the partnership that established the Chicago Summer Business Institute," Coolidge said. "When talking to firms establishing an office here, he would always say,'this is a program you should consider supporting'."

Bedore wanted Chicago students from less affluent families to have a more significant summer opportunity for advancement beyond working in the parks, and he wanted the internship to offer a real view of finances, not just making copies at the Xerox machine. "I get notes from former students telling me how the Chicago Business Institute really turned their lives around," Kljajic said.

Hundreds have graduated going on to prominent careers in finance, law and other business fields. The program provides paid summer internships for Chicago high school students with at least a B average and a family income of below $80,000. An institute scholarship is named for Bedore.

Bedore, a Chicago native who served in the U.S. Marine Corps, retired in 1995. He and his wife, Judy, then moved from their Chicago neighborhood of Bridgeport to Springfield to be closer to their grandchildren.

Before Bedore's retirement, Knorr remembers one day at the office when work was temporarily put on the back-burner when Bedore's grandchildren ? infant triplets ? came for a visit. "I had one on my lap. Ed had another and we sat in his sixth floor office at city hall rocking the babies back and forth."

Bedore had a good sense of humor and put it to use on roast of department heads, Knorr said. He liked to golf and had his good days and bad ones on the course. "He called outings tree inspections," Knorr said.

"During his career in Chicago, Ed had many titles: president of All Saints Credit Union, budget director for the City of Chicago under Richard J. Daley and Michael Bilandic, member of the Chicago Board of Trade, Treasurer of Chicago Transit Authority, and CFO for the city of Chicago under Richard M. Daley," his family said in a remembrance. He favorite titles were those of "husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather."

Bedore is survived by his wife, Judy, son David (Julie) Bedore; daughters, Mary (Dr. Gary Moeller) Bedore; Sharon (Dr. John) Kwedar; and Bridget (Jordan Polansky) Bedore; seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Services have been held. Condolences can be posted at butlerfuneralhomes.com.

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