Cover photo for Leonard Wicklund's Obituary
Leonard Wicklund Profile Photo

Leonard Wicklund

June 8, 1930 — April 16, 2024

Barrington, IL

Leonard Sigurd Wicklund, age 93, died on April 16, 2024, at JourneyCare Hospice, Barrington, Illinois. He is survived by his three children, Lisa Wicklund, Berlin, Germany; Linnea Wicklund (Michael Harwell), Atlanta; and Dean Wicklund (Mia Wicklund), Chicago; and his three stepchildren, Steve Hatfield, Schömberg, Germany; and Kelly Jones and Ross Smith, both of Stevens Point, WI.

Leonard was born on June 8, 1930, in Chicago to Swedish immigrants Sigurd and Ebba Wicklund. He was the eldest son of three siblings, including Sandra and Robert.  Growing up in the Austin neighborhood on the west side of Chicago, he graduated from Austin High School in 1947. Presented with a set of building blocks at the age of three, Leonard claimed to never remember not wanting to be an architect. His dream came true at an early age. After enrolling at the University of Illinois School of Architecture at the age of seventeen, he became the youngest ever registered architect in the state of Illinois at age twenty-one. 

Leonard served as a Corporal in the US Army from 1951 – 1953 at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. As a Combat Construction Specialist, he taught principals and methods of camouflage to officers and enlisted students in the engineering school.  In 1954 he married Jane Baehler, an Austin neighbor and younger sister of Len’s lifelong friend Jim Baehler. The young couple first lived in Austin, while Len started his architectural career with Thomas Cooke Architects. He later worked for storied firms like Perkins & Will and Ganster & Henninghausen. They moved to Evanston in 1959, where they raised their three children.  

OWP Architects was founded in Evanston in 1957 along with college friends Larry O’Donnell and Ray Pigozzi. Leonard Peterson joined the firm in 1965 eventually renaming the practice OWP/P. They started in a “…dirty little office: the El train ran by, and the soot from the train came in and there was a rusty old sink, and all of us smoked Marlboros.  It was not a very fun place to be in the summer,” remembered Len Peterson. One of their first commissions was to design a warming house with four walls and a roof for the Evanston Park District’s seasonal outdoor ice rink at Mason Park. 

From those humble beginnings, OWP/P would become one of the largest architectural firms in Chicago, with 370 employees and more registered architects than any other firm in Illinois. In 1996, Architectural Record named OWP/P one of the thirty best-managed firms in the country. 

OWP/P specialized in hospitals, libraries, senior housing, and school design. Projects in higher education included the University of Illinois College of Law, Champagne-Urbana; renovation of the historic University of Illinois Lincoln Hall; DePaul College of Law, Chicago; College of Law, Northern Illinois University; Santa Clara University School of Law; renovation of an original Eero Saarinen building at the University of Chicago Law School; and over forty K-12 school districts in the Chicago metropolitan area. Healthcare projects included the University of Chicago Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine; Lake Forest Hospital; Condell Hospital, Libertyville; Loyola Medical Center (with HDR), Maywood; and Copley Hospital, Aurora. Other notable projects included the Peristyle at Millenium Park, the United Airlines Chicago headquarters, the Arthur Anderson Campus, St. Charles, and a prototype police department for the city of Chicago and other police departments for Elgin, Glenview, and Skokie

In 1995 Leonard was named to the American Institute of Architects College of Fellows in recognition of his achievements in design, practice, public life, academia, and service to the Institute. 

Edward Lifson, architecture critic, journalist, and director of communications for the Pritzker Architecture Prize, wrote of OWP/P upon the fiftieth anniversary of the firm: “OWP/P is one of those decent forces that makes a city worth living in and that strives to improve our place. They give us good, quiet, strong, harmonious design. Powerful modern places, filled with natural light, joy-filled, authentic, not garish, little ego. OWP/P is one of those firms that seems to be listening to the users.”  

Apart from his professional life, Leonard was dedicated to his family and community.  In the 1970s, Lisa, Linnea and Dean were all competitive speed skaters with the Evanston Speed Skating Club. Leonard took on the mantle of president of the club, providing it with the leadership to grow and succeed exponentially.  The club produced state and national champions (including daughter Lisa), as well as future Olympians. Although Leonard and Jane divorced in 1977, as co-parents they spent innumerable hours driving the kids to practice and competitions, sharpening their skates and withstanding the bitter cold of midwestern winters while cheering them on.  

In 1988 Len married, Ann Cunningham, with whom he remained married until her death from cancer in 2016. They resided in Barrington, Illinois, and enjoyed travel, classical music, opera, friends, and their children and nine grandchildren, who brought them great joy and pride. Len’s grandchildren are Brett Wicklund, Trevor Wicklund and Elise Harwell, and Ann’s grandchildren are Cavan, Shyela, Sorrel, Judith, Kai and Kale.  

Leonard’s love of the game of golf never wanted, and at the Garlands, as a skilled bridge player, he found much fulfillment and happiness playing in tournaments, along with discovering his joy for acting in theater productions. Leonard’s family extends special thanks to the staff at The Garlands of Barrington, where he and Ann spent many happy years, and to the professionals at JourneyCare Barrington hospice for the loving care provided during his final days.  

A memorial service will be held for close family and friends. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to your favorite charity in Len’s name, one that you feel would be close to his heart.  

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Leonard Wicklund, please visit our flower store.


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