In Memory

Roger Levin

Roger Levin

Date of death:  July, 1997

Cause of death:   Heart attack

Age:  55

Residence at time of death:   Palatine, Illinois

Occupation:  Attorney/real estate investor

Family:  Daughters Genevieve, Jocelyn and Elinor; sisters Kathryn (Haddon) (HPHS class of 1962,)  and Inge Martin; brother James R. Levin (HPHS class of 1964)

Roger's life:  One HPHS classmate, Karen Zuiker (Lackey,)  says it best:  "Roger was shy and smart, funny when he got to know you, and really enjoyed being able to one-up other people -- in a nice way."   He had worn glasses from the age of five, but, Karen says, "Behind those glasses was an alter-ego dying to break out."  

Roger was an officer of the HPHS band, where he played French horn and was an enthusiastic participant in "Capitol Chaos," the 1958 Student Stunts production,   In HPHS English classes he had read "The Forsyte Saga" and determined he wanted to be a successful entrepreneur like the most successful of the Forsyte clan.    He and Dick Aaron produced a record of the Stunts show, which they marketed to fellow students in a merchandising triumph.   Many "Capitol Chaos" performers and stage crew still have their copies of the LP record.

An academic superstar in our class,  Roger was accepted at Columbia University in New York.  During his time there he went on a student tour to the Soviet Union, quite an adventure back in the days of the Cold War.   After finishing at Columbia he attended the prestigous University of Chicago Law School, where he got his J.D. degree in 1966.  

He opened a general commercial law practice in Chicago and later became a hearing officer for the Illinlois Commerce Commission, a post he held until 1987.   It was a government job that called for gutty decision-making on such matters as whether Commonwealth Edison should be allowed to increase electric rates to cover the cost of new generating plants.   They were the kind of issues that got your name in the paper as the official who was at the center of controversy. 

Roger was also an officer in the Naval Reserve, serving as a Judge Advocate, a military lawyer.   His family members say he took this work very seriously and never missed a Navy legal assignment even in the midst of his busy career.

At the time of his unexpected death he had switched civilian careers to concentrate on real estate investing.  His brother Jim remembers him as a great dad who lavished love on his three daughters; they were the emotional center of his life.   "His daughters adored him," said his sister, Kathy.   

Always bright and curious, Roger had two primary hobbies, computers and motorcycles.   The interest in computers developed long before ready-made desktop machines were available to the public.  An experimenter in a still developing field, Roger built his own computers by assembling components he would purchase from the few suppliers who were then in business.   He had to fit the various parts together and de-bug the assembly on his own in an era when there weren't Apple stores or instruction manuals.  Teaching himself about a complicated subject that involved mathematics and machines seemed to come easily to Roger. 

The other hobby he embraced was building and riding foreign-manufactured motorcycles.  It may have seemed a bit out of character for one of the class "brains."  But it was clear that those youthful decisions to produce a record in high school and to take a Cold War trip to Russia foretold a man who coupled boldness to his powers of intellect.   He rebuilt the motorcycles he cherished on his own.   And he didn't just build them.  He rode them, too.

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01/14/09 11:44 AM #1    

Karen Zuiker (Lackey)

Oh, drat, gone too soon. I was so looking forward to being able to try my conversational Russian with Roger and to compare our memories of that country. I remember how impressed we were when Roger went to Russia, but it was far more of an undertaking when he went in the 60's.

Hey, Rog, does going to Siberia one-up gong to Moscow? And were you still a "Forsythe" as you enscribed my record cover for "Capitol Chaos" and did you still like BLT's--your grandfather would roll over in his grave!

05/17/13 12:22 PM #2    

Jeffrey Levinger**

Roger and I reconnected briefly during the '60s, when he was building a law practice in Chicago.  He was still really smart and funny, and I liked the friends he introduced me to.  Sorry he's gone.

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