For the past 31 years you could count on the sun rising, rain on occasion, the sound of cars driving down Springfield Avenue, and Bill Iskander arriving for work at The Grand Summit Hotel.
Bill arrived at the hotel as a front desk agent in 1986. It was long after that he took over the position of lead Night Auditor of the historic hotel. The position has long been considered one of the most important for a property, as along with hotel security, the employee is the eyes and ears of the hotel while the merriment winds down and nightfall brings on the long slumber.
Bill would arrive each evening at approximately 10:30 p.m. and go about his routine. Upon arrival his first stop was always the Hunt Club (now the HAT Tavern) where Bill would say hello to Restaurant Manager Walter Curtis and grab two bottles of water for the extent of the shift. He would also go about placing his dinner in one of the kitchens hot boxes lovingly prepared by his wife Refka of 50 plus years.
“It is so hard to believe that this man will not be with us going forward,” says long time General Manager Mark Giangiulio of Iskander, who passed away March 4. “Through all of the ups and downs of our business, the one constant was Bill. He was one of the original employees when I took over many years ago, and he stayed loyal to me for all this time. He’s someone who means a lot to me personally, and I will never forget his service and friendship.”
Like the postal worker, Bill would make it to the property regardless of inclement conditions. Nothing could stop his devotion to the job. While family was very clearly the focus of Bill’s life, work was clearly a priority to him and something he enjoyed very much.
'Mr. Bill' as he was affectionately known by many of the staff would make you feel as if you were the only person in the room when he greeted you. It was an example of dignity and respect that have been trademarks of this country for many years. Bill was born in Egypt and still carried his native accent, but there was nobody in the building who carried himself as elegantly as Bill. “He was really a throwback to the gentleman of our industry who made their living by serving guests and working hard in the 24/7 world of hotels,” says Assistant General Manager Michael Marino.
Bill would work five to six nights a week from 10:30 p.m. until 7 a.m. the following morning, and he brought joy to all of his fellow staff members. Whether it be the turnover from the evening shift, or to welcome the morning crew, colleagues could look forward to seeing Bill’s warm smile each day. For managers who would only see him once a month during an overnight shift, the time between stints would feel like forever as Bill would offer pleasantries and quiet conversation that would make even the most harried night seem like a summer breeze.
Bill kept a very low profile and was a very private person. What was clear to everyone who knew him however was his love for his family. His daughter Salwa would often come by the hotel to see her dad, and the strong relationship they shared was very evident.
His wife of 50 plus years Refka, his daughter Salwa, son Sam and his wife Marcela, and grandchildren Ashley, Amy, Alex, Nader, and Nadine survive Bill.
It is an understatement to say that Bill will be missed. Everyone who came in contact with him has wonderful stories to share. For those of us who have known him for many years, we know we are better off as people for having him in our lives.