William R. Wallin
William R. Wallin
  • December 11, 1942 - November 8, 2016
  • Wilmette, Illinois

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William R. Wallin was a devoted husband, father, pianist, gardener, philatelist, bookworm, and Christian. He was a quiet man who balanced the solitude of his hobbies with a strong dedication to service to others, volunteering at The Night Ministry, the Chicago Botanic Garden, and serving on the Boards of One Hope United and of the American Baptist Churches of Metro Chicago, as well as the countless ways he served and contributed to the ministry and mission of The Community Church of Wilmette. His sense of duty defined his character, nowhere more clearly than in his role as a family man, but also in his role as citizen. He took an active part in democratic government, serving as an election judge and, for a time, Republican Precinct Captain, and of course voting. One of his last acts was to cast his ballot from his hospital bed, insisting on privacy.

His retirement was a second childhood, and he spent much of his time on his two childhood hobbies, collecting stamps and playing the piano. Music was his passion, and he played daily, took lessons regularly, and attended a piano camp in Bennington, VT every year. He loved to travel and enjoyed visiting his children wherever they were, touring in Europe and Latin America including fulfilling his lifelong dream of hiking at Machu Picchu, and trying to visit all 50 state capitols, of which he saw possibly 40. This last was uniquely Bill; he had found a way to combine his roles as tourist, architecture buff, and amateur government historian into one quirky hobby.

He loved the outdoors and enjoyed riding his bicycle, paddling his canoe, and tending his garden. He was an avid photographer, and he leaves a collection of nature photographs that capture his appreciation of simple natural beauty. He loved to tell of the time when he and his wife Sharon attended a photography exhibit at the Chicago Botanic Garden. One photograph showed a man raking gravel on the shore of a pond surrounded by the changing colors of autumn, with sky and pine trees reflected in the still water. We can only imagine the delight he must have felt when he realized that he was looking at a photograph of himself. It is rare glimpse into his private life, a moment spent in meditation, a picture of a humble man engaged in the simple act of bringing order to a chaotic world. It is a picture of pure peace.

Born to William and Beulah Wallin on December 11, 1942, Bill grew up in Mazon, Illinois, served AmeriCorps VISTA in Seattle, Washington, and graduated from the University of Chicago with an A.B. in Political Science and a J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School. He served as an attorney for the U.S. Interstate Commerce Commission and later the U.S. Department of the Interior, both in Washington D.C. He returned to Illinois as an attorney and later Chief of Opinion Division for the Illinois Attorney General's Office in Springfield and Chicago. He spent the last several years of his career as Legal Counsel for the Illinois Department of Human Services in Chicago.

Bill died November 8, 2016. He is survived by his wife Sharon (nee Palmer) and his three children, Amy, Geoffrey and Jonathan (Jennifer), as well as his brother Douglas, a brother-in-law, sisters-in-law, many nieces, nephews, cousins, and countless friends.

A memorial service celebrating William's life will be held Saturday, November 26, at 3 p.m. at The Community Church of Wilmette, 1020 Forest Ave., Wilmette, Illinois.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Bill's memory to The Community Church of Wilmette, The American Baptist Churches of Metro Chicago, One Hope United, or The Cancer Wellness Center.