Nancy Follett, 86

Active in philanthropy, government

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Nancy C. Follett, a celebrated leader across an array of essential Oak Park and regional government and social service programs, died on Feb. 2, 2018 in her apartment in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. She was 86. 

She is survived by her husband, Bob, four children and their spouses, seven grandchildren and six spouses, and six great-grandchildren.

Follett was an active community leader in Oak Park for over 40 years. She served as chairwoman of the Oak Park-River Forest Community Chest, president of the Community Welfare Council of Oak Park-River Forest, and director and treasurer of the Village Manager Association. She was a charter member of Women Leaders in Philanthropy, which funded charities in the community. 

Taking over as chairwoman of a moribund Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation, she turned it into a major community asset. She served on a statewide governor's commission and was a founding member and then president of the Suburban Cook-DuPage County Health Planning Agency, president of the Illinois Association of Health Planning Agencies, and on the board of the national association.

Follett was elected to two terms as Oak Park Township supervisor, expanding the township's role in human services. She was also president of Township Officials of Cook County, and served on the board of the state organization.

Follett was chairwoman of the Oak Park Fire and Police Commission, and led the integration of women and African Americans into those departments.

She had served as director of Follett Corporation, an educational publishing company that now employs 15,000. She was also chair of the Follett Educational Foundation for 10 years, assisting young people in attending college.

Follett played the harp as a young woman and appeared with the Symphony Orchestra of Oak Park-River Forest. She was a longtime member of Nineteenth Century Club and was also an initial investor in Wednesday Journal.

Born and raised in upstate New York, she married Bob Follett in 1950. After the Korean War, the couple settled in Oak Park. The Folletts raised four children, who attended Oak Park elementary schools and the high school. During her child-rearing years, she began to take on community activities.

In 1994, she and her husband moved to Keystone in the Colorado mountains. While Bob skied and hiked, Nancy again became a community leader. She was named Citizen of the Year in Summit County, Colorado, for her many leadership activities. 

A memorial service in Oak Park is planned for later in the year.

Gifts in memoriam can be made to the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation, 1049 Lake St. #204, Oak Park, IL 60301.

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