This past December our organization lost a man who was largely the reason we have thrived for 90+ years. I realize that those are strong words but out of 90 years of existence, J. William (“Bill”) Braithwaite sat on our Board for 50 of those years. He passed away from complications due to COVID-19 at the age of 92.
Bill Braithwaite did not just sit on our Board. He was a thoughtful leader. He was active, engaged and when called …. he showed up. His demonstration of leadership in Board meetings strengthened our organization. Watching him in Board meetings was a lesson in leadership. He listened. He listened. He listened. And then he would speak two sentences and influence the decision or the direction we were taking. I was in awe.
Bill, his wife Dyllis and his church, Barrington United Methodist Church have been ardent supporters of Family Service of Lake County for many years. More than 50 years ago Bill recognized that there was a need for Mental Health Services in the Barrington area, and he reached out to our organization to help him bring services to his community.
Bill, a highly respected municipal lawyer in Barrington, had a side of him that I could relate to--he was a farm boy at heart. He met his wife Dyllis in 4-H; I too grew up with 4-H as part of my life. Then he went on to tell me that he had had a small farm in a small town in Wisconsin and that I had probably never heard of it, Ridgeway Wisconsin. Well, we had yet another connection … I had grown up on a farm not too far from Ridgeway and he had known my great uncle. A small world, maybe, but Bill had that ability to find that connection.
Past Executive Directors were greatly influenced by Bill:
Carrie Callas: “I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with Bill Braithwaite. He was such a generous man with a calming demeanor and a great sense of humor. His was a life well lived, and he will truly be missed.”
Bob Wolf: “A man for all seasons, an elite statesman, and friend to all. With his church, he founded Family Service of Barrington Area and nurtured its development over the decades. Always ready to help, he was an invaluable resource and advisor during my tenure at Family Service. The Braithwaite family has been a real pillar in the Barrington area. I feel honored to have known Bill and his supportive wife Dyllis.”
But, I think Harry Sexton put all of our feelings for Bill in perspective….
Harry Sexton: “I can still remember the first time I met Bill - over 40 years ago when I started at Family Service. He had been active and instrumental in getting the agency to expand its services to the Barrington area and continued to serve on the local branch of the board through and past my retirement. During the ‘90s he joined the Corporate Advisory Board, a group that gave me so much help. I have so many memories of this group and individuals who gave so willingly. Bill spoke at my retirement “celebrations,” and I still cherish some of the thoughts he expressed. He was recognized, respected, and loved by many others with equal regard who also benefited by his support and guidance. I have so many fond memories of Bill, the “Barrington Associates,” meeting with him individually in his office, warm and friendly receptions, and his firm handshake. He was able to put everything aside and respond as though the Agency’s concerns were his only commitment. And his relationship with Dyllis, their love and respect for one another, was so obvious.”
Thank you, Bill Braithwaite, for your leadership.
Nancy Sawle Knobloch, Executive Director