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Bill Tech, president and CEO at Travel and Transport Inc., at his retirement in 2014.

For years, Bill Tech was the guy to see in Omaha for business and executive travel. And he was a friend to seemingly everyone in town.

He was a vice president of Travel and Transport, an Omaha-based travel management firm, when he moved here in 1992. He was the company’s president and chief executive officer from 1998 until his retirement in 2014.

“To know him was to love him,” said Kevin O’Malley, who succeeded Tech as CEO. “If you talked to him for five minutes, you wanted to be his friend. And if you were his friend, you were his friend for life.”

Tech, 70, died of cancer Tuesday in Denton, Texas, where he and his wife, Jeri, had lived since his retirement.

Tech had cheated the disease for decades. He had Lynch syndrome, a genetic predisposition to certain types of cancer. For 32 years, he suffered recurring bouts, including cancer of the colon, kidney, bladder, breast and skin.

“Ultimately, cancer was what got him,” O’Malley said. “He was just a true marvel, to survive it over and over.”

Tech was born and grew up on Chicago’s South Side. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois and an MBA from DePaul University.

After college, he joined Continental Bank in Chicago, where he worked until joining Travel and Transport in 1987.

Tech was a dyed-in-the-wool fan of Chicago sports, as anyone could see the instant they visited his office. It showed his devotion to the White Sox, Bears and Blackhawks.

“We used to call his office the Chicago shrine,” O’Malley said.

Guests were invited to sit in seats that had been salvaged from old Comiskey Park, the former White Sox stadium.

“Every square inch of his wall was covered with Chicago sports memorabilia,” said Tim Fleming, the company’s president.

Travel and Transport quadrupled in size under his leadership, his crowning achievement being the 2012 purchase of Ultramar, a New York-based travel firm. That earned him a spot in Business Travel News’ “25 Most Influential” travel executives that year.

When he retired, Tech told friends his proudest accomplishment was shepherding the 73-year-old company to full ownership by its employees, a process completed in 2000.

“His legacy and his immense impact on our company will never be forgotten,” Fleming said.

During his time in Omaha, Tech was equally well-known for his charitable work. He was involved with Boys Town, the Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben, the Omaha Sister Cities Association and The Salvation Army. He also served on the boards of many local organizations, including the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce and First Westroads Bank.

Tech’s recurring battles with cancer led him to work with the American Cancer Society. He and Jeri helped to fund the construction of Hope Lodge in Omaha, where cancer patients and their caregivers can stay during treatments.

“He was always planning for the next thing, fighting the good fight,” O’Malley said.

Even after retiring, Tech served as chairman of Travel and Transport. He also enjoyed vacations with his family. Especially cruises: He took more than 50 of them during his life.

Tech was awarded the title “Chairman Emeritus” in a ceremony last month.

He is survived by his wife, Jeri; their daughters, Cynthia Tsimberg and Lori Vaughan; and four grandchildren. All live in Texas.

A funeral service will be held April 13 in Dallas.

Steve is the military affairs reporter for The World-Herald. Follow him on Twitter @SteveLiewer. Phone: 402-444-1186.

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