William Browne, 87, founder of Forest Insurance Agency

William Burt (Bill) Browne, 87, of Oak Park died on Jan. 5, 2010. Born on Dec. 26, 1922 in Madison, N.J. and raised in Florham Park, N.J., he had an adventurous streak and in 1939, at age 16, he left New Jersey with six friends in a “bus” he built. They traveled to California for the Golden Gate International Exposition, returning two months later, hungry and triumphant. He received an education with the help of the U.S. Army Air Corps and the G.I. Bill with extensive technical education in the service, a B.S. in physics from Monmouth College and a B.S. in business administration from Northwestern University.

Mr. Browne moved to Oak Park in the 1940s and married in 1950. The subsequent years included raising four children, the building of the Forest Insurance Agency, numerous board memberships, presidency of the Rotary Club of Oak Park-River Forest, many awards for business and community work, participation at First Presbyterian Church of Oak Park, travel to Door County and more exotic locales, fixing anything at one of three fully-stocked workbenches, strong friendships and loving his family. Family and friends say his personal qualities of gentleness, persistence, generosity, imagination and hard work created a rich life tapestry and an inspiring legacy.

Bill Browne is survived by his wife, the love of his life, Mary Kirsch Browne; his children, Meredith Upward, Carolyn Browne, J. Danforth Browne (Carol), and Nancy Browne (Rick Herbine); his grandchildren, Benjamin, Andrew, Stephen, Michael, Lauren and Quinn; his great-grandchildren, Gavin and Ryan; and his brother, Edward.

A memorial service and reception will be held at First United Church of Oak Park on Saturday, Jan. 30 at 1 p.m. Memorial contributions may be made in Bill’s name to the Rotary Club of Oak Park-River Forest Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 654, Oak Park 60302.


Jon Olson, 70, OP Country Club, Hazelden Foundation board member

Jon D. Olson, 70, died on Jan. 10, 2010 of respiratory failure, stemming from lung cancer that had metastasized to his bones. Born on March 5, 1939 in Modesto, Calif. and raised in Patterson, Calif., he was an Eagle Scout and graduated from Pomona College, later receiving his MBA from the University of Chicago School of Economics. He was the owner of Financial Management Strategies in Oak Park for many years and a longtime Oak Park resident. He was also an active member of the Rotary Club of Oak Park-River Forest and of local AA groups. Active in recovery programs, having been sober for 37 years, he served on the board of the Hazelden Foundation for over 20 years. An avid golfer, he was a member of the Oak Park Country Club.

Jon Olson is survived by his wife of 47 years, Mary Houck Olson; his children, Derek (Kris) and Deirdre Olson; his grandchildren, Kajia, Ben, Nataly and Anna; his brother, Jay (Dee) Olson; his sister, Donna (Bruce) Carmichael; and many nieces and nephews.

Visitation will take place on Jan. 15, from 4 to 7 p.m. and on Jan. 16 at 10 a.m., followed by a service at 11 a.m. at Grace Lutheran Church, 7300 Division St. in River Forest. Lunch will follow. Interment is private.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in memory of Jon Olson to the Hazelden Foundation, Development Office, P.O. Box 11, Center City, Minn., 55012.

Arrangements were handled by Drechsler, Brown & Williams Funeral Home in Oak Park.


Forsythe Render, 89, Lifelong OP resident, nature lover

Forsythe Render, 89, died on New Year’s Day, 2010, at Lexington Health Care Center in Elmhurst where she lived since 2003. She was a life-long resident of Oak Park until she required nursing care. As a young girl, she became a girl scout and attributed her love of nature to this organization. She especially loved wolves, and her concern for polar bears and their plight was of deepest concern.

Deeply active in the 19th Century Club, she asked about it the day before she died. She worked for the National Safety Council. She read constantly and had a subscription to the National Geographic and U.S. News and World Report. Family and friends said she was always cheerful and interested in the world and remained so until she died. Her kindness touched those who cared for her.

Forsythe Render was preceded in death by her father, Carl Render (ENT Physician) and stepmother, Nellie Renne Render. She was cremated and her ashes will be buried in the earth she loved and cherished at Mount Emblem Cemetery.

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