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Montrose fisherman Willie Greene dies at 84

Willie Greene liked fishing power lines Montrose Harbor.

Willie Greene liked fishing power lines at Montrose Harbor.

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Updated: September 29, 2012 6:09AM

William Greene served on the USS Orca in the Pacific Ocean in World War II, but his lifelong service would be on Lake Michigan at Montrose Harbor in Chicago.

“Willie” Greene, as known to lakefront fishermen, died Saturday night at Quincy Veterans Home. Mr. Greene, 84, took over Park Bait, the corner bait shop at Montrose Harbor, from his employer in 1956.

“That was his life,” his daughter Stacey Greene-Fenlon said. “That lake was his world. He used to get a kick out of when a kid would come in and say, ‘Oh, my dad brought me here when I was little.’ He loved that generational stuff.”

Park Bait is a classic bait shop selling fathead minnows, spikes, wax worms, night crawlers, soft shells (in season for perch fishermen), fish hooks, split shot, pastries and supplies for fishing power lines, the uniquely Chicago form of trot lines.

“He was a great partner fishing power lines on Montrose Horseshoe,” Ken “The Lakefront Lip” Schneider said.

Ah, the Horseshoe. Chicago’s most famous fishing spot was Mr. Greene’s spot.

“He spent his eighth grade graduation day on the Horseshoe,” Greene-Fenlon said. “He did not go to graduation. It was a different time.”

Mr. Greene was a city kid. He was born in St. Louis, raised in Uptown and lived most of his life on the Northwest Side. But he loved the outdoors.

“I worked here with him and went sometimes with him to Florida,” veteran counterman Mike Repa said. “We hunted together in South Dakota.”

Mr. Greene is survived by Greene-Fenlon and his grandson Cory Gecht. Services are not set. Most likely there will be a memorial service after Labor Day.

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