Anna Tatar Saul, 93, died peacefully on Sunday, February 18, 2018 after a long decline. James Donald Saul, her husband of 69 years, died unexpectedly in his sleep 35 hours later.
Both were born into poverty in rural southern Illinois coal country. They were children of the Depression, and both did their parts during WWII, Anna in St. Louis and Jim in Italy and northern Africa.
Like thousands of others, Jim and Anna met following the war, married and started their family. They were some of the original homeowners of Park Forest. Jim worked as an editor; Anna raised their four children, obtained her Associate's degree part-time over the years, and then worked as a bookkeeper.
Jim and Anna became active in community affairs and the Park Forest Unitarian Church, where they remained members for over 60 years. Influenced by the racial discord of the 1960's, they worked to integrate Park Forest in the 1960's. Jim worked for civil rights by acting in a traveling production of a play entitled "In White America", featuring a mixed-race cast and asking uncomfortable questions of the status quo. He also was part of a production that satirized then-current Chicago and national politics, set to the soundtrack of the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar, for which they received national attention. Jim marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in one of the historic Alabama marches in 1963.
Anna and Jim were pioneers in civil rights as well as in other ways. Anna served on the PTA and the League of Women Voters, Jim installed safety belts in the family car long before most people knew what they were. They were influenced by Rachel Carson's landmark book, A Silent Spring (1962), that jumpstarted the environmental movement. They helped establish the first generation of a recycling program in Park Forest. They chose healthy eating habits and paid attention to the origins of their food in a time when few cared. They composted and gardened in search of the fresh tastes they had experienced as children when they ate fresh food from home gardens.
As parents, Jim and Anna made sure their children had access to music lessons, sports activities, Boy and Girl Scouts, and church activities. They taught by example, rarely lecturing or preaching their beliefs but encouraging us to research the questions we had, and to look inside to decide our own path. They were avid readers, wordsmiths, and Scrabble players. Anna enjoyed reading, women's history in particular. Jim enjoyed photography, comparative spiritual quests, and woodworking, and was a member of Mensa.
Anna and Jim Saul were recognized for their community work in 2007 when they were inducted into the Park Forest Hall of Fame. They are acknowledged in the Park Forest Historical Society website.
They are survived and missed by their children: Diane Ewing of Venice, CA,, Gordon Saul of Park Forest, IL, Ruth Ellen Saul of Madison, WI, Eileen Langdon and son-in-law Jim Langdon of Deforest, WI. Grandchildren are Justin Saul, Tenley Schwarz, Anna Langdon, Sarah Langdon, Ashley Saul, and Amber Saul. Nieces and nephews are Susan Townsend, John Michael Tatar of Ziegler, IL, and Sarah Winkler of Raleigh, North Carolina.They are preceded in death by Anna's brothers and sisters-in-laws.
There will be a service honoring them at Lain Funeral Home in Park Forest on Saturday, March 17, 2018. Visitation 1:00, service 3:00. Donations can be made in their names to the Park Forest Unitarian Universalist Church, which flooded days after they died.