William J. Donnelly, 90, died on May 25, 2016 in the care of his family and Loyola Medicine Hospice, in the Oak Park home in which he had lived for 53 years.
A physician whose post-graduate medical training took place at Cook County Hospital, he practiced medicine for 30 years at Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital and for 27 years as chief of hematology and hematology/oncology.
Through his articles in peer-reviewed medical journals, Dr. Donnelly was a tireless advocate for patient-centered medicine. He focused on reforming the medical record as essential to achieving true patient-centered medicine.
From his first years in Oak Park, Bill Donnelly was active in the civic life of the community. He served on the board of the Citizens’ Committee for Human Rights during the struggle for the passage of an open-housing ordinance promoting a racially integrated Oak Park. He marched with citizens opposing the war in Vietnam, though he himself was a Korean War veteran.
For several years he served on the nominating committee of the Village Manager Association. With other members of an organization, known as the Council for Open Education in Oak Park, he won the approval of District 200 for an alternative student-centered education program in our high school known as “XP.”
More recently, through “Beyond the SoundBite” forums, he joined with other Oak Parkers who seek a just peace in Israel and Palestine. With his wife, Tesse, he was a founding member of the St. Giles Family Mass Community.
They promoted the Family Mass Community winter readings on Saturday mornings and helped facilitate three-year cycle readings of Dante’s Divine Comedy and Dostoevsky’s major novels.
Bill Donnelly loved to read and was a founding member of Oak Park’s Old Bulls reading group. An ardent rail fan, he took his family on steam train excursions and shared cross country rail trips with each of his children. He loved movies and shared this love with his neighborhood by projecting, on the garage door, 16-millimeter versions of classic films. He also cherished Shakespeare, musical theater and opera.
Bill Donnelly was the husband of Tesse; the father of Tom, John, Theresa, Patrick and Maura; and the grandfather of Claude, Ambrose, Liam, Gabriel, Lucy, Beatrice, Fiona, Finnbar and Ronan.
A funeral Mass was celebrated May 28 at St. Giles Church. The family appreciates contributions honoring Bill Donnelly’s memory be made to St. Giles Family Mass Community, 1025 Columbian Ave. in Oak Park, 60302.
Drechsler Brown & Williams Funeral Home, Oak Park, handled arrangements.