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James M. Osta

August 18, 1942 February 27, 2016
James M. Osta
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Obituary for James M. Osta

James M. Osta, August 18, 1942 - February 27, 2016, age 73, of Forest Park died peacefully surrounded by his children. Devoted husband to the late Susan W., nee Waters; beloved father of Kathleen (Tony Smith), Mark (Cynthia), and David (Amanda) Osta; adored grandfather of Kaelen and Addison Osta Smith, Allison and Jack Osta, Seth and Ian Osta; cherished brother of John (Nancy), Tom (Kathleen), Elizabeth (Dave), D. Mark, and Kathleen Osta, and the late Mary Jean (the late John) Downs; uncle of Jean (Eric) Osta Niemi and Timothy Osta; fond brother-in-law to William (Jeanne), Robert (Linda), Barry (Jacqueline) and Peter (Janet) Waters and loving uncle, cousin, friend, and mentor to many. Jim was born in Buffalo, New York where he lived until he was 8 years old. In 1954, his family moved to Syracuse, New York where he would meet his future wife Susan at Most Holy Rosary School. There he served as a choir boy and was a skilled debater. Following graduation from Niagara University in 1964, Jim went to work as a Catholic Extension Volunteer on the west side of Chicago where he worked as a community organizer for fair housing and other social justice and anti-discrimination efforts. This led him to pursue and obtain a Masters in Social Work from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He eventually went to work for the Illinois Department of Mental Health where he spent nearly thirty years developing innovative programs and policies to better serve people living with mental illness. He and Susan chose to raise their family in Oak Park for its progressive social policies, racial and economic diversity, and excellent schools. In 1983, Jim was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). When asked how he felt about having MS and the disabilities that it brought, he answered that it was mostly "just a nuisance". He would go on to provide counsel and support to people newly diagnosed with this confusing and frightening disease, offering a listening ear, reassurance, and living proof that one could lead a full and satisfying life with MS. He was a life-time social activist and advocate and worked on issues ranging from ending abuse and promoting reform in foster care settings in Illinois, drafting legislation to ensure children born with fetal alcohol syndrome receive the support and services they need, and volunteering in Congressman Danny Davis's office on "Ban the Box" http://bantheboxcampaign.org/ efforts to eliminate job discrimination for people formerly incarcerated. He was an active member of Al-Anon and provided countless hours of support to families impacted by alcoholism and addiction. His commitment to justice was as profound as his sense of humor and wit were sharp. He kept his sense of humor through numerous trips to the ER and hospitalizations and thankfully, passed this as well as many other gifts on to his three children. Jim was an avid reader and consumed more left-leaning magazines each week than seems possible. He was a dedicated gardener and loved plants and trees, often pointing them out to others to take in their beauty. He stayed in touch with and enjoyed regular phone calls with his siblings and numerous friends from all eras of his life. His children and grandchildren were the lights of his life; he relished their stories, nurtured their interests and curiosities, and experienced joy with each of their successes. He read to his grandchildren, cheered them on in their sports and activities, and attended their performances. Most of all, he listened to them and loved them unconditionally. He loved music and singing and was a member of the Celebration and Gospel Choirs at St. Catherine of Siena-St. Lucy Church appreciating both the music and the community that came with rehearsals, mass, and summer supper clubs. When asked about his life he often expressed that for him it was "truly an embarrassment of riches". Visitation Thursday, March 3rd, 4 to 8 p.m. at Drechsler, Brown & Williams Funeral Home, 203 S. Marion St., Oak Park. Prayers Friday, March 4th, 10:15 a.m. from the funeral home to St. Catherine of Siena - St. Lucy Church, Oak Park. Mass 11 a.m. Interment Private. In lieu of flowers, memorials to National Multiple Sclerosis Society of Greater Illinois http://www.nationalmssociety.org/Chapters/ILD/ or South Suburban Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse http://sscouncil.org are appreciated.

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Previous Events

Visitation

Thursday

3

Mar

4:00 PM 3/3/2016 4:00:00 PM - 8:00 PM 3/3/2016 8:00:00 PM
Drechsler Brown & Williams Funeral Home

203 South Marion Street
Oak Park, IL 60302

Drechsler Brown & Williams Funeral Home
203 South Marion Street Oak Park 60302 IL
United States

Funeral Mass

Friday

4

Mar

11:00 AM 3/4/2016 11:00:00 AM
St. Catherine of Siena-St. Lucy Church

38 N. Austin Blvd.
Oak Park, IL 60302

Prayers at funeral home 10:15 a.m.

St. Catherine of Siena-St. Lucy Church
38 N. Austin Blvd. Oak Park 60302 IL
United States

Memorial Contribution

National Multiple Sclerosis Society of Greater Illinois

525 West Monroe Street Suite 900
Chicago, IL 60661

South Suburban Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse

1909 Cheker Square
Hazel Crest, IL 60429
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