James Aull IV, 80

Social justice advocate

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James Andrew Aull IV, 80, of Oak Park, died peacefully on June 8, 2019, surrounded by family and friends. Born on Dec. 18, 1938 in West Norristown, Pennsylvania, he grew up on a 50-acre farm with woods, streams, and wildlife, and his love of nature never left him. He attended Hill School college prep, graduated from Princeton University with a B.A. in history in 1960, earned an MDv from Chicago Theological Seminary, and an MAT from Northwestern University. 

During his professional life, he worked for the YMCA, taught high school in Woodstock, Illinois, and spent 25 years with Chicago Youth Centers, retiring as director of Quality Improvement. A founding member of the Oak Park Lesbian and Gay Association (OPALGA), he served on its board, and guided the establishment of the OPALGA youth services, the first organization of its kind in Oak Park. 

His experience with the YMCA lit a fire in him to fight for social justice and to serve the needs of disadvantaged youth, causes to which he devoted his career and his life. In 1959 at the height of the Cold War and while still in college, he traveled to the Soviet Union as a youth representative of the YMCA becoming one of the first Americans to do so. He spent six weeks and visited Russia, Czechoslovakia, and Poland and was able to meet many young people his age. As his friends of the time attest, though they worried about his safety, Jim was unafraid and saw his visit as a mission. He was greatly loved and will be deeply missed. He realized his altruism through word and deed and did what all of us should aspire to do — he made the world a better place.

Jim Aull is survived by Jeffrey Jon Smith, his spouse of 30 years; his sons, Gino Aull and James Bradley Aull; and his granddaughter, Rebecca Aull. He was preceded in death by his parents, James Andrew Aull III and Sarah Helena Aull (nee Longacre); his sister, Jean Kathryn Aull; and his late partner, Dennis Thompson. 

A celebration of his life was held at Euclid Ave. Methodist Church on Aug. 4, with Rev. Dr. Marti Scott presiding. 

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Alexis Leslie from Lockport  

Posted: August 13th, 2019 8:41 PM

Jim's remarkable commitment to social justice--some of which I did not know-- went beyond what most of us are able to do. He was of that era, when we believed we could change the world for the better. And he did. He is a hero who now inspires and challenges us to continue the work. My condolences to you Jeffrey. Rest in a peace well earned Jim.

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