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Robert F. Birney

October 19, 1940 September 25, 2018
Robert F. Birney
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Obituary for Robert F. Birney

Robert F. Birney died on September 25, 2018 at his home in Oak Park, IL with dear friends and his wife, Hilda at his side, just short of their 50th wedding anniversary. He was 77 years old. Thus ended his heroic three-year battle against pulmonary fibrosis.
Bob grew up in Freeport, Ohio. Throughout his youth he helped his father run the ancestral family farm which evolved into a large-scale turkey ranch. It was during these early years that Bob developed his remarkable ability to fix anything and everything -- a skill that made him the “just ask Bob” resource for his neighbors and friends.
In 1962, he graduated with a degree in Journalism from Kent State University where he served as Vice President of the Student Council for 3 years, President of the Interfraternity Council and Chair of the Student Faculty Union. While a student he also worked part-time as a reporter and photographer at the university and for several area newspapers.
With a Kent State scholarship and graduate assistantship, Bob went on to study Political Science at the University of Vermont. He later held a full-time position there in Institutional Research. This led to a post at SUNY Albany, New York where he launched his life-long career in designing computer-based information systems. While in New York, Bob served in the National Guard and met his future wife, Hilda. They were married in 1969 in her hometown of Troy, New York.
Bob and Hilda settled in Oak Park in 1972 where he held leadership positions at DePaul University, American Hospital Supply-Baxter International, Phillip Morris-Kraft Inc and was a Consultant for Deloitte & Touche managing a broad range of corporate and government engagements, locally and nationally.
Soon after moving to Oak Park, the couple bought an E.E. Roberts house surrounded by gardens they developed over the years. After retirement Bob became more and more engaged in the garden. He single-handedly created a large koi pond that was featured one year on the annual Oak Park and River Forest Garden Walk. He later converted it to an eco-friendly water retention reservoir. When a 100+ year old elm tree died in his back yard, he created a 12’X12’ pergola to provide shaded seating.
Bob loved to travel; was an avid reader; news follower (especially the NYT); and stock trader. Feeding his life-long knowledge and inquisitiveness in how things worked, he was a relentless collector of hand tools and found objects that he restored or repurposed. Socially he was a mesmerizingly humorous storyteller.
Bob is survived by his wife, Hilda and his brother, Stanley of Morgantown, West Virginia.
A Memorial Service will be held on November 2nd at Drechsler, Brown & Williams Funeral Home in Oak Park with visitation beginning at 3 PM and the Service at 5 PM. In lieu of flowers, donations are appreciated to the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, 230 East Ohio Street, Suite 500, Chicago, 60611 (www.pulmonaryfibrosis.org) or the Friends of the Oak Park Conservatory, P.O. Box 1096, Oak Park, 60304 (www.FOPCON.org/donate) or to a charity of your choice.

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Previous Events

Memorial Gathering

Friday

2

Nov

3:00 PM 11/2/2018 3:00:00 PM - 5:00 PM 11/2/2018 5:00:00 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

Memorial Service

Friday

2

Nov

5:00 PM 11/2/2018 5:00:00 PM - 6:00 PM 11/2/2018 6:00:00 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

Memorial Contribution

Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation

230 East Ohio Street, Suite 500
Chicago, IL 60611

Friends of the Oak Park Conservatory

PO Box 1096
Oak Park, IL 60304
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