By Devin Rose
Nancy Corbett Dillon, a former tennis champion and teacher who served on the River Forest village board for more than 20 years, died Saturday at the age of 87.
"She was the most protective, caring, compassionate woman and mother that any child could hope for," said John Dillon, her youngest son.
After the death of Robert, her husband and high school sweetheart in 1956, Nancy worked two jobs to support her five sons, John Dillon said. They were all under 12 years old at the time, but her son said his mother always "had control."
Male chauvinism was at its peak during those days, he said, but his mother was a tough woman and endured it. She taught elementary and high school and found time to volunteer with the River Forest Park District.
She also taught tennis lessons most of her adult life, and was once ranked among the top tennis players in the nation herself. Dillon had attended Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla., on a full tennis scholarship and won state, regional and national championships before having kids.
When she retired in 2009, Dillon had served the longest tenure as a trustee in the history of the village. Her son said her service on the board was one way she could give back to the community in which she had lived her whole life.
"I learned so much from Nancy, especially how to treat people with compassion and respect," said village board president John Rigas, who served more than eight years with Dillon on the board.
"She always looked at everything in her life as if the glass was always half full," Rigas said in an email Monday.
John Dillon said he couldn't tell as a child when his mother was struggling. She always had a smile and good things to say to people, he recalled. "I don't know how she did it all," he added.
Nancy Dillon is survived by her sons, 15 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Visitation will be held Nov. 22 from 3 to 9 p.m. at Drechsler, Brown & Williams Funeral Home, 203 S. Marion St. in Oak Park. A Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m., Nov. 23, at St. Luke Church, 528 Lathrop Ave.