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D-Day Survivor-Chicago Operator Honored At Cubs Game

Posted on September 8, 2017
D-Day survivior and veteran Art Rento Sr., 95, recognized Sept. 2 at Wrigley Field in Chicago (photos: Pontarelli Companies)

D-Day survivior and veteran Art Rento Sr., 95, recognized Sept. 2 at Wrigley Field in Chicago (photos: Pontarelli Companies)

CHICAGO --- Art Rento Sr. drew a standing ovation Sept. 2 from 42,000 fans at Wrigley Field when the Chicago Cubs recognized him for his service as a U.S. Army veteran who survived the Normandy D-Day invastion of June 6, 1944.

Rento, the 95-year-old founder of Pontarelli Companies and Pontarelli Worldwide Ground Transportation in Chicago, was honored before a match between the World Series champions Cubs and the Atlanta Braves. He was gifted with a 1908 replica jersey and team photo and greeted by the entire Cubs coaching staff.

The audience, the second largest at Wrigley Field so far this year, erupted into reverent applause as they stood in respect for Rento. Pontarelli Companies, founded in 1977, is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

During the ceremony, Art Rento Sr. was formally introduced to and greeted by the Chicago Cubs coaching staff.

During the ceremony, Art Rento Sr. was formally introduced to and greeted by the Chicago Cubs coaching staff.

During his 27-month World War II tour as a combat engineer, Rento went to Normandy with the 1st Infantry Division. He then went to the Philippines for the Japanese invasion. President Truman dropped the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki while he was still on the ship. Japan at that time still did not know the war was over, so Rento and his fellow troops served as liberators.  

When Rento returned home to Chicago, he started a cab company and operated it for the next 15+ years. He then worked for the city of Chicago as an investigator. While there, he partnered with Jerry Pontarelli and started Pontarelli Livery Service.  

Since he worked for the city, he couldn’t have his name on the business. With economic challenges in the early 1960s, Pontarelli became disenchanted with the business and didn’t want to spend money and invest in it. Instead, his son Arthur and wife Debbie, who had joined the business as a chauffeur and office manager a few years before, bought Rento’s partner out.  

In 1981, Art Sr. left the business and Arthur Jr. became the managing partner. Art. Sr. still comes to the office to say hello and joke around with the staff and chauffeurs. 

Today Pontarelli boasts a premium fleet of more than 30 vehicles, including nine buses, vans, and an array of luxury sedans. Its new headquarters sits on the Kennedy Expressway just a few miles from O’Hare International Airport.

The company received an LCT Operator of the Year Award in March during the International LCT Show in Las Vegas and the 2016 People's Choice Award for Innovation last November at LCT-NLA Show East in Atlantic City, N.J.

Sources: Pontarelli Companies / LCT Magazine

Related Topics: Chicago operators, honors and awards, Illinois operators, operator achievements

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