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Arthur George Oakley, retired longtime U.S. Postal Service letter-carrier and avid sports fan who passed his love of athletics on to his three children, left this earth on Thursday, July 26, 2018, surrounded by family and friends. He was 83.
Born June 7, 1935, he was a lifelong resident of the Chicago area, having spent the last 55 years living in the same home in the Pistakee Highlands subdivision outside of Johnsburg, where he and his surviving wife, Dolores, grew vegetables and flowers in their home garden.
Art grew up in what is now Prospect Heights, IL, which in the 1940s was a rural area, so the domicile of his parents resembled more a small farm than a suburban house. Young Art spent a great deal of time riding his pet pony through the area. He became a 1953 graduate of Arlington High School, and shortly thereafter signed up for a six-year military commitment in the Illinois National Guard. He became a 30-year employee and occasional local union official of the U.S. Postal Service in McHenry.
He married Dolores (Hernandez) on Sept. 29, 1956. For the next six decades he was a member of Mount Hope United Methodist Church in Pistakee Highlands, where he served as Sunday School teacher, choir member, occasional board member, and organizer/player on the church’s softball team. He and Dolores also ended up falling in love with a specific breed of dog, so their yard usually featured at least two Pekingese.
Art took up jogging in the 1990s and accumulated a few dozen medals in his age group in local 5-kilometer races and in the annual McHenry River Run. He was a volunteer with the McHenry County PADS/Pioneer Center for Social Services and the Environmental Defenders of McHenry County. He served as a youth baseball volunteer and coach in the early days of Pistakee Highlands’ youth baseball program at the two ballfields that once existed behind Mount Hope Church.
Besides his wife, Dolores, Art is survived by two sons, Andrew A. (Suzanna) Oakley of Blairstown, NJ, and Timothy P. (Lydine) Oakley of McHenry; daughter Lydia B. Oakley-Rustmann of Grand Ledge, MI; two sisters, Carol Schoenfeld of Mississippi and Audrey Baas of Mount Prospect, IL; a younger brother, Dr. Stewart Oakley of Chico, CA; seven grandchildren; and one great-grandchild, George Oakley, who was born one week before Art’s passing. Art was predeceased by his parents, Arthur George Oakley Sr. and Mary Grace (Guilfoil) Oakley, and sister, Judith Sheridan.
When his children were growing up, Art each summer would pack the car with family, dog, and an unusually heavy canvas tent to sightsee and camp throughout the United States. These trips went as far north as Minnesota and Mount Rushmore in South Dakota; as far west as Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado and El Paso, TX; as far south as New Orleans and Stone Mountain, GA; and as far east as Lake Placid, NY.
Art was a lifelong Chicago Cubs and Chicago Bulls fan, and almost a lifelong Chicago Bears fan. In addition, for a decade he and Dolores attended a couple of Northwestern Wildcat football games each year.
A favorite family memory was attendance at a preseason Bears football game, the annual Armed Forces Game, at Soldier Field against the St. Louis Cardinals in 1969, when Art found a way to sneak his family down to the entrance to the Bears’ locker room. At halftime and after the game, the Oakley children were able to stand within inches of such Bear greats as Gale Sayers and Dick Butkus, and quarterback Jack Concannon shook the boys’ hands; Art also ran into then-Gov. Richard B. Ogilvie while hanging out with the Bears and shook the governor’s hand, even though Art was a lifelong Democrat and harbored little admiration for Republicans such as Ogilvie. Later in life, Art tired of losing records from Chicago Bears teams and switched allegiances to the Green Bay Packers, much to his family’s protest and chagrin.
Art’s love of sports caught on with his children, and he attended most of their sports practices and games. He also spent countless hours every week throwing footballs and baseballs around with his children. Eventually, one son earned most valuable player honors as a running back on the 1977 McHenry Community High School Warriors football team, another son became an All-Big 10 Conference distance runner and record holder at Northwestern University, and the daughter excelled as one of the first female cross-country athletes at Johnsburg High School.
A memorial service for Arthur George Oakley will be Sunday, September 2, 2018 at 2:30 pm at Mt. Hope Methodist Church, 1015 W Broadway St, Johnsburg, IL 60051.
Memorial donations in his name may be made to Peke A Tzu Rescue, P.O. Box 1, Trufant, MI 49347. http://www.pekeatzurescue.com
Peke A Tzu Rescue
P.O. Box 1, Trufant MI 49347