James Aull IV, 80
A social justice activist, Aull’s passion was fueled by his work at the YMCA and his exposure to the needs of disadvantaged youth. He was also a founder of the Oak Park Lesbian and Gay Association and worked on its youth services projects. June 8.
Allan Baldwin, 71
A former chair of the Ernest Hemingway Foundation, Baldwin was an intrepid traveler having adventures from Mt. Everest to Antarctica. He was a skilled sailor and scuba diver. He worked in technology at both Loyola University and at University of Illinois Medical Center where he was instrumental in implementing the first electronic medical records system in the U.S. May 21.
Rev. Richard Billings, 94
Rev. Billings served as minister of Unity of Oak Park for 50 years. After serving in active duty in the Pacific during World War II, he became a fashion designer with a shop on Oak Street in Chicago. He left that behind to become an ordained Unity minister. He came to Oak Park in 1967 to head a small congregation which had purchased a fixer-upper mansion on North Euclid Avenue. From there the congregation grew to several hundred. Feb. 18.
Paul Bouman, 100
A composer and teacher, Bouman was a founder of the Bach Cantata Vespers series hosted at Grace Lutheran Church in River Forest. In his long retirement, he published over a hundred choral anthems, songs and work for organ.
The longtime owner of the Onion Roll, a legendary Oak Park deli, Cardone and his brother, Johnny, owned the North Avenue spot from 1984 until 2014. He got the humor in “two Italian guys” running a Kosher deli but said a long-time customer, “When Lou ran the Onion Roll, it was a place where people knew who you were and knew how you liked your coffee.” May 3.
Karen Daniel, 62
A respected attorney whose work focused on advocacy for prisoners wrongly convicted, Daniel was struck and killed Dec. 26 by a vehicle while out walking her dog near Pleasant Street and Scoville Avenue. A leader in the innocence movement, Daniel had worked at Northwestern University, but was due to begin work in January at the Exoneration Project at the University of Chicago. Dec. 26.
Lowell Eckberg, 84
In a long life, Eckberg played many roles including military service, teaching, social work and ministry. He served as president of the Community of Congregations, volunteered at the Housing Center, the Hemingway Birth Home and the Economy Shop. Jan. 30.
Daniel Escalona, 25
A graduate of OPRF and the University of Illinois-Champaign, Escalona studied journalism. He earned a master’s of journalism and was a freelance reporter for Wednesday Journal. He died of complications from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. April 12.
Robert Fuller, 83
A beloved teacher at OPRF, Fuller headed the vibrant Fine Arts Department at the school for many years. An accomplished pianist and composer, Fuller brought a playful sense of humor and kindness to students at the high school.
Bernie Judge, 79
A legendary Chicago newspaper man, Judge started at the City News Bureau and went on to work for the Tribune and Sun-Times and as publisher of the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. He is a member of the Fenwick High School and Chicago Journalism hall of fame. June 12.
Christine Long, 87
A longtime Oak Parker, Long was known for her political activism on topics ranging from ballot access to immigration and civil rights. A veteran of many political campaigns, she focused on her Polish heritage and was active in the Poland’s transition from communism to democracy. March 10.
Richard Matthies, 82
A dean at OPRF for 22 years, Matthies was also a member of the Fire and Police Commission for 10 years and worked as volunteer coordinator at Rush Oak Park Hospital. Aug. 27.
Sr. Jean Murray, 91
Sr. Jean Murray served as president of Rosary College, now Dominican University, from 1981 to 1994. She joined Rosary as a French teacher in 1961 and was later chair of the Foreign Languages Department. “There was a quiet strength about Jean Murray that defined who she was and all that she accomplished,” said Donna Carroll, current president of Dominican. Feb. 14.
John Murtagh, 75
John retired to Oak Park from Michigan after a successful career at General Motors. He moved here to b closer to children and grandchildren. He was an active volunteer on village commissions and later became a critic of some village initiatives. He was a regular commenter on Wednesday Journal’s website. Oct. 14.
Rev. Harry Parker, 66
The senior pastor at First Baptist Church of Oak Park from 1990 to 2018, Parker spoke with candor and grace about his life and his work including the illness which finally ended his life. He delivered his final sermon on Nov. 3 and titled it “My Confession.” Nov. 22.
Bobbie Raymond, 80
A foundational figure in Oak Park’s long experiment in racial integration, Raymond was the founder of the Oak Park Housing Center in 1972. She played an enormous role in all of Oak Park’s many efforts to foster racial integration in housing. After her retirement from the housing center, her focus shifted to OPRF where she worked to resuscitate the Alumni Association turning its efforts toward providing scholarships and summer travel and learning experiences for current students without such opportunities. A well-regarded artist, Raymond exhibited her paintings and taught classes at the Oak Park Art League. May 7.
Nancy Staunton, 90
An Oak Park village trustee and active community volunteer, Staunton was known for a steady and calm approach to both her work and her family. She worked in public health, volunteered at Thrive and the Community Nursing Service. She was also an active member of the League of Women Voters. Staunton served on the village board in the late 1980s. Nov. 24.
Jon Van, 75
A science and medicine reporter for the Chicago Tribune, Van was known for clear reporting accessible to ordinary readers. He had an insatiable curiosity about how stuff works. An avid cyclist, Van commuted by bike from his Oak Park home to Tribune Tower every month of the year. July 10.
A towering activist in the Austin neighborhood starting in the 1970s, Vondrasek was a community organizer and agitator who headed the South Austin Coalition Community Council. Active on a wide range of housing and affordability issues, Vondrasek, a white graduate of Notre Dame, won the trust of West Side black leaders and residents. April 19.
Herb Zobel, 90
An avid bicyclist, traveler and craftsman, Zobel worked to keep old buildings in good repair. An early male member of the 19th Century Club he worked on that Forest Avenue structure as well as at his long-time church home at First United on Lake Street. He was an active Boy Scout leader and was elected to the Order of the Arrow. He spent his career as an engineer at Peoples Gas. Along with his wife, Claudette, he was an early investor in Wednesday Journal. June 2.