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William J. Darley

July 17, 1928 April 17, 2018
William J. Darley
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Obituary for William J. Darley

William Joseph Darley, age 89, of River Forest, IL and Williams Bay, WI, passed away at home on April 17, 2018, surrounded by his family. Bill leaves a legacy of love through family, friendships, charities, and a family business.
The accomplishments throughout his life are a testament to his strong work ethic, adventurous spirit, Catholic faith, and devotion to his family and the W. S. Darley & Company. Bill grew up in the house his father built in River Forest, with three other siblings. He was raised by his mother after his own father died when he was seven. Bill kissed his first wife, Jeanne Morrissy, in kindergarten at St. Luke and took her to prom in high school. He was captain of the varsity swim team for three years at Fenwick High School, swam as an All-American in college, and was in Phi-Delta Theta fraternity while earning a degree in mechanical engineering at Purdue University.
Although he’d say he never worked a day in his life, he grew W.S. Darley & Co. family business to an international business in fire-fighting equipment and manufacturing, led by the third and fourth generation family today. He traveled to 135 countries, was a fire industry leader, and served on Boards such as Liberty Mutual, Dominican University, and the Catholic Charities’ Brighter Futures and LOSS programs. Bill was a member of the Adventurer’s Club of Chicago and the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, among others. He was devoted for over 32 years to his second wife Fran, who he first saw from the pulpit of St. Luke Church.
But of all his successes, Bill is most known not by what he did, but who he was. He was a friend to all, kind, humble, accepting, funny, and true. He loved the outdoors, fishing, golfing, and hunting. His best days were spent at his family home of 90 years in Lake Geneva. He treated all as though he’d known them forever.
Bill was the beloved husband of Frances Butler Darley and the late Jeanne Morrissy Darley; loving father of Stephen (Darlene), Peter (Karen), Thomas (Pamela), James (Christina), Paul (Heidi) Darley, Anne (Randy) Freedman, and the late William C. and Mary Krina (Michael) Mattio; adored grandfather of Matthew, William, and Kevin Darley, Gabriel, Geneva, Nicole, and Jasmine Darley, Audrey (fiancé Stephen Welch), Margaret (fiancé Christopher Teets), and Sophie Darley, and James and Emmet Freedman; dear brother of Patricia (the late Dr. Philip) Long and Reginald C. (the late Francella) Darley and the late Julia (the late Edward) LeFevour; fond uncle of Michelle (the late Ted) FitzHenry and many other nieces and nephews; Bill is also survived by Fran’s children: Laura Brady, Greg Trankina, Diane Golden, Frank Trankina and Mary Bea (James) Farmer; and special grandfather of Robert Mackey and Mabel (Tyler) Huddleston, Ryan (Pina) Puccinelli, Eileen (Travis) Ayotte, William and Maggie Golden, and Matthew and Daniel Farmer.
Visitation Sunday, April 22, 4:00-7:00pm at Drechsler, Brown & Williams Funeral Home, 203 S. Marion, Oak Park. Family and friends will meet at St. Luke Church (Lake and Lathrop) River Forest, Monday, April 23, 10:00am.
Private interment at Mt. Carmel Cemetery, Hillside. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions to Catholic Charities: (

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Previous Events





4:00 PM 4/22/2018 4:00:00 PM - 7:00 PM 4/22/2018 7:00:00 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




10:00 AM 4/23/2018 10:00:00 AM - 11:00 AM 4/23/2018 11:00:00 AM
St. Luke Church

7600 Lake St.
River Forest, IL 60305

Please meet at church.

St. Luke Church
7600 Lake St. River Forest 60305 IL
United States

Memorial Contribution

Catholic Charities

721 N. LaSalle
Chicago, IL 60654

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