G. William Friedlander of Evanston died Dec.20. Born March 1, 1929, in Evanston, and named for his maternal grandfather Gustav, he was known to one and all as Bill.
The only son of Julius and Helene Friedlander, Bill was raised in Wilmette and Glencoe and was a 1947 graduate of New Trier High School. He attended Carleton College in Minnesota, transferring to the University of California at Berkeley, from which he graduated in 1951 with a degree in sociology. He earned a Master’s in Social Work from Columbia University in 1953. Following work at a settlement house in Indianapolis, Bill joined the staff at the Welfare Council of Metropolitan Chicago.
In the summer of 1960 on a visit to California, he met Harriet Treon, a native of Pittsburgh. They were married on Nov. 18 of that year and lived in Lincoln Park, where sons Gustave and Charles were born. Bill served as executive director of the Lincoln Park Conservation Association, a nonprofit organization dedicated to enforcing building codes and helping homeowners make improvements in a neighborhood where many buildings had fallen into disrepair and were in danger of demolition. In 1965, the family settled in Evanston, where Bill and Harriet lived the rest of their lives.
Going into business for himself, for the next 20 years Bill was a freelance consultant in community work, writing grant proposals, needs assessments and priorities studies for a wide variety of nonprofit organizations in and beyond Chicago. Gradually retiring from paying work, he continued for many years as a volunteer and board member of several activist groups, most notably Amnesty International and the Evanston Community Foundation.
He was a founding member of Evanston’s Amnesty Group 50 and remained for its entire duration as an in-person organization. Bill was a lifelong social activist, beginning in the 1940s as a member of the World Federalist Movement. He was a member of and contributor to a wide variety of social-justice and environmental organizations.
Always capable, confident, and strongly opinionated, in later years Bill was content to live simply. He loved jazz, enjoyed riding his bike and swimming in Lake Michigan from one end of the season to the other, and read for many hours each day. A lifelong Cubs fan, he lived to see his heroes win the World Series in 2016.
Harriet’s death on November 24, after 60 years of marriage, affected him deeply and he joined her just 26 days later. Bill is survived by his sons, both of Evanston, who miss him very much. A memorial gathering is planned for a later date.
Arrangements by Cremation Society of Illinois, 773-281-5058 or www.cremation-society.com.