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Family to continue East Dundee man’s unique house legacy

Brad Giertz works his East Dundee house April 2012. Giertz died November after battle with cancer.  | File~Sun-Times Media

Brad Giertz works on his East Dundee house in April 2012. Giertz died in November after a battle with cancer. | File~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 17, 2014 6:03AM

EAST DUNDEE — For the past two decades, those visiting downtown East Dundee would be hard-pressed to miss the home under construction at 110 N. River St.

It was a rare day that Brad Giertz, 55, wasn’t toiling away by himself on the project, working off his own architectural drawings. He envisioned one day opening the space for architects, artists and designers in the town’s old business district.

But for now, work has halted on the project.

Giertz, a longtime East Dundee resident, died in November after losing a battle with cancer.

His mother, Dorris Giertz, said her son amassed quite a following over the years as people watched the home more than quadruple in size from its initial 1,100 square feet.

“People would come from all over to watch him work on it,” she said. “He did everything himself. Every single thing. Every nail.”

Tom Roeser of Otto Engineering and his facility manager, Jerry Skowronski, have been heavily involved in revitalizing East Dundee’s downtown and got to know Giertz through their projects in the village.

“He was truly a one-man wrecking crew, artist and visionary, all in one,” Skowronski said. “What one man can do with scaffolding and pulleys and imagination and hard work puts us all to shame.”

‘I can do that’

Skowronski said the community “really lost a true pioneer in the field of artistry and motivation.”

“Here’s a guy who said, ‘I can do that, and I’ll do it all by myself,’ ” he said. “It really is a thing of beauty even as far as he’s gotten on it. It’s amazing what one man can do.”

And when it came to his work, Giertz could be a stickler.

“He could never do anything unless it was just perfect,” Dorris Giertz said. “He was that kind of a person. But he had visions. Yes, he did.”

The family will continue what Brad Giertz started.

“We plan as a tribute to try and finish it,” said his brother, Jeff Giertz. “Well get the outside done, and then we’ll start tackling the inside.”

That work likely will begin in the spring. In the meantime, the family plans to Tyvek the outside of the house to protect the wood.

Only perfection

Brad Giertz’s decision to take on the project was no surprise to his family members.

“He spent 18 years on his own home down on the river,” Jeff Giertz said. “Then when he got done with that, he bought this property. I think it was hard for people to understand why he took so long to do things. But everything had to be perfect. He drew all his own plans and submitted them. He put a lot of thought process into the things he did.

“That’s just the type of guy he was.”

A charter member of St. Thomas More Catholic Church and School in Elgin, and a 30-year member of Local 150 International Union of Operating Engineers, Brad Giertz was diagnosed with cancer about a year ago. His treatments included both radiation and chemotherapy.

“Then about a month and a half ago, the cancer came back with a vengeance,” Jeff said.

He calls his brother “a great guy to know.”

“Words can’t actually give a true description of him,” Jeff said. “There were so many great things about him.”

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