A tribute to my former boss at American Express Travel, Steve Ginardi. Manager, friend, and a wonderful human being.

steve amex1
Here are Steve Ginardi and Ron Elkins at the American Express Travel office in Rolling Meadows.

Out of all the stories I have written on my blog since June of last year, this one will be the toughest. This morning, I looked on my News Feed on Facebook, that my former boss from American Express Travel, Steve Ginardi, passed away on January 16. I was on my out to take my mother to the eye doctor and saw the terrible news. I sat on my couch motionless for a couple of moments, and then tears were starting to flow from my eyes. The memories of him working with him were flooding my brain, and I cried even more.

I started working at American Express Travel on November 14, 1994, for the Kraft account in Glenview, IL. I was a temp and was going to be there for about six months. When I arrived there, my position was a ticket packager. I first met Steve, probably the second or third day of working at that place. He was kind, generous, and if I needed anything, I would let him know. I have worked with a lot of supervisors in my lifetime, but he was an exception. Most of the supervisors that I worked with in the past were moody, snobby, sexist, sloppy, and uneducated. He was a breath of fresh air.

A few days before the office was to close, Steve offered me a full-time job at the Rolling Meadows, IL, office. I was reluctant at first, but I needed the money and insurance. So I accepted the position. On June 19, 1995, I started working AMEX at Rolling Meadows on the 11th floor in the packaging room. A few months later, the Abbott account moved to the second floor and was packaging airline tickets. I had other responsibilities for my job, but I am saving them for my 25th-anniversary story in June.

I had a promotion to be a Quality Assurance in 1996. It was the best job I ever had. Over the years, I have watched Steve of his quirks and his idiosyncrasies daily. When it came to food day, he would devour anything in sight. It’s like watching a Scooby-Doo cartoon. He would complain about the portions of some types of food were too small. It was pizza, pies, cakes, and sandwiches. He enjoyed the cakes that I brought in the office that my mother baked. He would have two big pieces and would be considered puny.

One of my favorite times with him was, every Friday afternoon I would be inundated, with an abundance of airline tickets, invoices, telephone calls, and people dropping by asking me questions. I loathed it so much, but I managed to get through with this every week. Steve would come in and asked me if I needed help. I always said yes, and he would sit down, and he wanted me to make fun of everyone. The people were my team leader, the other team leaders, co-workers, and the travel agents on the 2nd and 11th floor. I didn’t do that, but he was the manager, and he got away with that. I always appreciated it when he helped me out. He eased the stress that I went through when it was extremely busy at the office.

2006 and 2007 were terrible years for me. My father passed away in January, and Steve retired a few months later. I was sad about both of the events happening. Then in February 2007, I was displaced at Amex. I wasn’t that sad about it. It was time for me to leave. The commute was wearing me out, and I saw the writing on the wall that the travel support would be no more. I still miss my Amex family to this day.

Around 2008 or 2009, I created the AMEX BTC Rolling Meadows Facebook group. When I joined Facebook, I started making friends with my former co-workers. When I started adding people in my group, I remembered Steve sending me a message saying, “Whoa!” So he entered people into the group. He said it was a terrific idea and was pleased.

I lost a part of my life today as I heard the news of Steve’s passing. I couldn’t stop crying for hours, and I still feel sad right now. His wife, daughter, and his family members have my deepest condolences. He was a good man. Thank you, Steve, for the memories. We all love you and are going to miss you terribly. Thank you. Pete Kastanes. Admin for Vanished Chicagoland Facebook Page.


6 thoughts on “A tribute to my former boss at American Express Travel, Steve Ginardi. Manager, friend, and a wonderful human being.

  1. I am so so sorry for your loss. I lost my wife in November the day before Thanksgiving. Loss is never an easy thing. We do get to move past it but I’m still grateful for the Memories that I have to look back on. Just a side note here when I was younger my dad and I would go from Park Ridge to Northfield and would pass the Kraft company everyday going to his shop. Those were good great days. Hopefully you’ll always remember the good things and be able to move past the pain and hurt and enjoy the time you had when he was your friend. Sincerely Bryan krieter

  2. Sorry about your boss. I think we (a now nonexistent software company) used that office for a while, unless there was one closer to Oakbrook.

    So the actual address of Kraft is in Glenview? Northfield thinks it’s there. (I used to live in Northfield…)

      1. So Kraft has another facility in Glenview that’s not the one at Waukegan and Willow? Just curious.

        Oh, and listen.. I saw the video you posted to Instagram yesterday, and I just want you to know that I’ll be praying for you. It’s fortunate you were able to catch it early, when there’s a greater chance of recovery.

  3. Thank you for this great post, Pete. The news spread fast in our now-scattered community that Steve had passed. I’m sure we all have great memories of him, particularly around Halloween.

    I, too, started as a temp for the month of November 1996, and was later hired permanently. It was an extremely busy time and Steve took my team (Overflow, 11th floor) out to dinner to celebrate surviving a challenging month. He had great fun telling me I was “fired” (GULP) and then gently reminding me that my temporary monthlong contract was up. I headed back to Seattle thinking my Chicago adventure was over.

    Somehow, Fred (remember him?) tracked me down in Seattle several months later, and offered me a job, ANYTIME I could get back to town. I have always felt that Steve was behind that. The stars aligned, and back I came, happy to work for the best, kindest, funniest boss ever. I will miss him, and the way he used to hover on food days.

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