09/30/2015 4:05PM

Longtime Arlington executive Bill Thayer dies

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Bill Thayer, a longtime racing executive, mainly at Arlington Park, and generally a well known figure throughout the American racing industry, died Tuesday in Rolling Meadows, Ill. Thayer was 89.

Born in Santa Fe, N.M., Thayer grew up an orphan but graduated from Creighton College in Omaha, Neb. He got interested in racing before leaving college, and began working in the sport shortly after graduation, catching on as a jockey’s agent.

Thayer went to work for owner Marje Everett at Arlington in the 1960s, was dismissed from his post and went to work at Finger Lakes for a time, but returned to Arlington and resumed his duties there, logging 49 years at the track under several regimes.

Tom Morgan, a longtime jockey agent in Chicago, called Thayer “an insider’s insider.”

“He had a pretty good education, but he got to hanging around the racetracks,” said trainer Dave Kassen, a longtime friend of Thayer’s. “I first met him at Latonia in 1959. He represented a number of jocks back then, worked as a stable agent, and ended up getting into management. He climbed the ladder at Arlington and kind of half-ran the place for awhile. Everyone went to Bill for answers to everything. He knew a lot of people all over the country.”

Thayer’s funeral will be held 11 a.m. Friday. at St. Colette’s in Rolling Meadows. There will be a visitation between 9and 10:30 at Meadows Funeral Home.