William A. Dwyer Sr., 91, a 35-year resident of Oak Park, died of natural causes on June 13, 2020 in his youngest daughter's Oak Park home, surrounded by his adult children.
Born on Sept. 29, 1928 in Maywood, the 13th of 13 children born at home, he met his future wife, Patricia (nee Powell) an Oak Park resident, at a young adult's dance in the Ascension School Pine Room in 1950. They were married at Ascension Church in August, 1951. After brief periods in Chicago and Springfield, they returned to Oak Park in 1957 to raise their growing family on the 300 block of North Harvey Avenue.
In the late '50s and early '60s, Bill served as a Cub Scout leader for his two oldest boys' troop at St. Lucy School in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago. As the manager of the Rubin's Sporting Goods stores, first in Melrose Park, then in Forest Park, he was well known in Forest Park political circles. His job led to his election as secretary of the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce in 1962.
Unfortunately, he was quite well known in the bars in Forest Park and elsewhere. His chronic alcoholism led to increasingly longer periods of unemployment and chaotic and abusive behavior that plagued his wife and children for years.
He finally managed to stop drinking for good in 1980 and entered a residential substance abuse program. A year or two into his recovery, he trained as a substance abuse counselor, taking a position at the MacNeal Hospital Chemical Dependency inpatient program in Berwyn.
He took great pride in his talent for working with recovering substance abusers, viewing it as a sort of redemption for the sins of his first 50 years.
Bill and Pat retired to Rome, Wisconsin in 1992 after building their retirement home on camping land they owned. Five years later, they relocated several hundred miles south to the far more temperate climes of Marion, Illinois, to be near their two youngest daughters.
With Pat in declining health, they returned to the Oak Park area in 2014, where Bill was her primary caregiver until her passing in October, 2015.
Bill Dwyer Sr. is survived by his eight adult children, including William Jr. (the late Carol), Keith (Karen West), Bryan (Cindy Martin), Peggy (Rick) Sabatino, Marian (Randy) Howell, Bob (the late Susan Escott), Stephen (Nikki Canino) and Nancy (formerly to Ed Collins). He also leaves 26 grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren and one due any day now.
Interment at Queen of Heaven Cemetery will be private. In lieu of flowers, people are asked to consider a donation to the Biden for President campaign at https://joebiden.com/donate.
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