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Art Rento Sr., Chicago Operator, D-Day Survivor, 1923-2018

Martin Romjue
Posted on August 15, 2018
Arthur Rento Sr. served in both theaters of war during World War II. (photo courtesy of Pontarelli Transportation)

Arthur Rento Sr. served in both theaters of war during World War II. (photo courtesy of Pontarelli Transportation)

CHICAGO --- Arthur Rento Sr., the founder of Pontarelli Companies and Pontarelli Worldwide Ground Transportation who fought in the Normandy D-Day Invasion of June 6, 1944 in World War II, died July 31 of natural causes with his family by his side. He was 95 years old.

Award Winning Luxury Transportation

Rento worked as a cab operator for 15 years after World War II and as an investigator. He was among one of the first operators to get a livery license in the city of Chicago and partnered with Jerry Pontarelli to launch 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, Rento's 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 visited 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 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.

Arthur Rento Sr. was honored for his military service with a standing ovation during a Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field on Sept. 2, 2017. (photo: Pontarelli)

Arthur Rento Sr. was honored for his military service with a standing ovation during a Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field on Sept. 2, 2017. (photo: Pontarelli)

Distinguished Service In World War II

Most notably, Rento had the distinction of serving in both the European and Pacific Theaters of War during World War II.

During his 27-month tour as a combat engineer, Rento went to Normandy with the 1st Infantry Division where he survived the Normandy D-Day Invasion of June 6, 1944. 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.

In his personal notes about his wartime service, Rento wrote of his Normandy experience: "London, England by ship and boarded flat bottom boats at the Thames River to cross the English Channel. Arrived Normandy. We marched a few miles where we received our equipment. Crossed the Sigfried Line. Along the way, Germans were in cement bunkers and our mission was difficult -- we threw grenades into the bunkers to clear the area. We traveled with our full equipment to Paris, France. The French were glad to see us. . . throwing flowers and the Germans were on the run."

After his European service, Rento wrote: "We were transferred to the port of Marseille, France and thought we were going home. We finally saw the Statue of Liberty and for some reason, the Statue faded farther and farther away. We realized we were not going home and continued through the Panama Canal. We ended up in Saipan, and were not accepted there so they took us to Manila. There, we prepared for the Japanese Invasion. President Truman dropped the atom bomb and the war ended. There was no furlough, no letters from home, and I was in for 27 months. I received all of these medals on points for various battles. . . "

On Sept. 2, 2017, Rento was honored for his service before 42,000 baseball fans at Wrigley Field in Chicago who gave him a standing ovation before a match between World Series champions Chicago Cubs versus Atlanta Braves.

The audience, the second largest at Wrigley Field that year, erupted into reverent applause as they stood in respect for Rento. He was gifted with a 1908 replica jersey and team photo and greeted by the entire Cubs coaching staff.

“He founded this company and always took care of his people and family to the very end. He lives on with us daily," said Anuj Patel, vice president of business development for Pontarelli Transportation.

A father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, Rento is survived by his son Art Rento and daughters Diane Albrecht and Cindy Hani and numerous other relatives. Chicago Sun-Times obituary here

Related Topics: Chicago operators, deaths, family businesses, honors and awards, memorial, obituary, Operator of the Year Awards

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