DeKALB – When Tom Cleveland was named the first recipient of the Roger Marquardt Award, it was an honor on two fronts.
Cleveland, manager of the DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport, was surprised and touched to receive the inaugural award of excellence from the Illinois Public Airport Association. The award is even more special, he said, because of his relationship with its namesake.
“I’m honored to get the award because of the man Roger was,” he said.
The Roger Marquardt Award is for excellence in development, operations and safety at an Illinois airport. At the time of his death in May, Marquardt was arguably the leading mind in the state on aeronautics, his son, Scott Marquardt, said.
Roger Marquardt was a former director of the DuPage Airport who grew that airport into what it is today, his son said. He was appointed state director of aeronautics under the administration of Gov. Jim Edgar and served as the state’s assistant secretary of transportation. He also was a lobbyist and former state representative. At the time of his death and for many years before, he was the director of the Illinois Public Airport Association.
“He grew the association into what it is now,” Scott Marquardt, the current director of the association, said. “For the last two to three years, the board had been looking to add an award for excellence. When my dad passed away unexpectedly, the board came to me and said, ‘We’ve been wanting to do this award, and we’re going to name it after your dad.’ It was an honor for me.”
Cleveland said he worked under Roger Marquardt at the DuPage Airport in the early 1990s, and the two maintained their relationship through the airport association. That relationship, Scott Marquardt said, was one of the reasons Cleveland was chosen as the award’s first recipient.
“His association with my father goes back about 30 years,” Scott Marquardt said. “Second, he has really become a leader himself in aviation in the state of Illinois.”
At the same September meeting in which Cleveland was given the award, he also became chairman of the board of the association, Scott Marquardt said.
Cleveland has been manager of the DeKalb airport for 11 years.