I met Denise Delanty through e-mailing Rockford Airport. Curious about her position there as Communications and Marketing Specialist, I wanted her views on Rockford and the airport scoop. Denise suggested Debs Little Italy on East State Street.
I came here with my husband a couple of weeks agothey had just remodeled. They have singing in the bar on weekends, she said.
We ordered salads, Caesar for Denise, adapted Caesar for me, with marinated veggies, artichoke and avocado and Romaine, not iceberg.
Im a high maintenance woman like in When Harry Met Sally, I said, spurring chat about Netflix, and my foreign film pick-of-the-rental-year: Bread and Tulips.
Denise moved to Rockford from the Chicago suburbs as a freshman in high school.
How did big city life compare with Rockford? I asked.
People who grow up in Rockford are sometimes down about Rockford, as I was after my high school years. I just wanted to get out.
Its a great place to raise a family you can go to Chicago, Madison, Milwaukee. Its affordability to have a beautiful home. Everything is here, she continued, but you have to take the time to get to know your community. If you keep on thinking theres nothing here, then youre really not looking, and you dont have to look that far.
Denise graduated from NIU with an English major.
The day I graduated, a Friday, I thought, Im going to just get some money to buy an interview suit and a car, and then Im going to move to Chicago.
She worked at Ballys, then added sports copy writing for the newspaper.
I worked two jobs it got to be a lot of hours. Thats what you do when you get out of college work as many jobs as you can to find your way.
She moved to classified sales, then left (the paper) for radio advertising.
I got married and had my son. I knew I didnt want to work full time. A year later, I was looking for something part time.
She returned to the newspaper, to the Marketing Department.
Our salads arrived. We talked low-fat, low-carb, diet trends.
Looking at this slim, dark-haired beauty, I wondered if any woman in America is not thinking diet of some sort.
Marketing became her career niche.
Once I got into that department, thats where I learned the most, grew the most. It set the foundation for the future, she said.
Then she took a position at the library, and later with Winnebago County.
I saw (an) opportunitya new consortium. What attracted me to the position was it was brand new. I would be on the ground floor, helping get everything set up. I would be the very first person hired. To help develop and shape it, I thought it would be challenging, exciting.
Now with the airport . she laughs. I was glad we were getting to it. She saw an ad saying, Come grow with us.
What I saw, what excited me, was hearing the great things Bob OBrien and the staff at the airport had done. The airport is such a positivea beacon of light in the community.
You talk about the airport like its more entertainment than government, I said.
Well, were governed by the Airport Authority board. We are supported through taxes. Part of our revenue is tax-based.
How do you feel about Amtrak coming here?
Absolutely. Anything you can do to get people from downtown Chicago to our airport is going to open up so many doors for us.
Why would they come from Chicago?
Think about the hassle the congestion. If you even go to OHare the hassle. Thats our taglineRFD is hassle-free. Free parking. Curbside service. You can pull up to the front of our terminal, and people are there helping you unload your luggagefor free. You can park your car, in a parking lot not a far distance from the (terminal) door.
And its a smaller airport to deal with.
Right, she affirmed.
Her smile and attitude are contagious. Her glow reveals a peace and joy for life. Her excitement for Rockford, the airport, is palpable.
Your staff is very personable, I said.
Thats who I get to work with, people like that. And the potential.
The come grow with us was the draw?
And the us part? I asked.
I dont know if youve ever seen Bob on TV he always thanks the staff.
What will you be doing in five years? Is the airport a future?
Its limitless. I mean, just with Bob OBrien and the Board and the community support. Who knows where its going to go and grow?
Marjorie Stradinger is a free-lance writer residing in Roscoe. She has covered food, drama, entertainment, health, and business for publications in California and Illinois for the past 25 years.