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Renowned Signmaker Steve Michalak Dies at 97

He worked at Illinois sign company for 23 years, enjoyed all aspects of signmaking.

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Steve Michalak | Credit: The Plainfield Enterprise

Steve Michalak, a signmaker in Joliet, IL who worked at Grate Sign Company for nearly 23 years, died in late May under hospice care at age 97, The Plainfield Enterprise reports.

In an interview he did with the paper two years ago, Michalak said he enjoyed all aspects of signmaking, from design to fabrication to installation.

His signature work was building the current marquee sign for the Rialto Square Theater in 1980, a replica of the original from 1926. In 2014, there was an attempt to replace the sign with digital capabilities, but public outcry shut the effort down.

“It was the biggest sign I ever made,” Michalak told the paper. “I had made signs that were in pieces and you put them together, but this was all one piece, other than the top section. We had about 150 bulbs on one circuit and they used to chase, making it appear that the lights were chasing around the whole sign.”

Read more at The Plainfield Enterprise.

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