Rev. William (Bill) Wilbur Southwick, a longtime Oak Park resident, died on Jan. 14, 2023 in Berkeley, California. Born on July 27, 1938 in Peoria to Lenore and Walter Southwick, where they owned two variety stores by the name of Southwick’s, he attended DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana and seminary in Edinburgh, Scotland where he performed a service attended by Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip.
Upon returning to the states, he graduated from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago and met Judith Southwick who had also grown up in Peoria. They were married on Oct. 19, 1963. Their son Daniel Walter Southwick was born on May 27, 1966 and their daughter Laura Susan Southwick followed on Sept. 14, 1968.
He managed a church-related coffeehouse and bookstore by the name of The Door, which aimed to bring youth ministry to non-church-affiliated young people. From 1975-1999, he served in a variety of leadership roles, including executive director, at Northwest Youth Outreach. He was recognized for his leadership of the organization with the “Legacy of Leadership” award. He devoted his life to service and activism and was heavily involved in the Civil Rights Movement and youth drug prevention programs.
Following his retirement, he continued performing occasional religious services and was an active member of the Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ in Chicago. His granddaughter, Isabella, was born on Jan. 14, 1999 in San Francisco. He and Judy enjoyed spending their time traveling, with a particular affinity for France.
Bill Southwick is survived by his son, Dan (Tiffany), and his granddaughter, Isabella. He is preceded in death by his wife Judy who died in 2012 after a long battle with cancer and his daughter Laura who died in 2002 while on a business trip to China.
A memorial service will be held later this year (once planned, details will be shared with close friends and family).
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Laura Southwick Foundation (a fund of the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation) in the link below. Please indicate “in memory to Bill Southwick”