J. Michael O’Byrne thumbnail

J. Michael O'Byrne

August 26, 1925 -
July 1, 2019

J.(James) Michael O’Byrne died June 30, 2019 in Urbana, IL. He was born August 26, 1925 at Mercy Hospital, Urbana, IL, the fourth of six children of John Francis O’Byrne and Rachael Copeland O’Byrne. He went to grade school at St Mary’s in Urbana, Il. and graduated from Champaign High School in 1943. He enlist…read more

J.(James) Michael O’Byrne died June 30, 2019 in Urbana, IL. He was born August 26, 1925 at Mercy Hospital, Urbana, IL, the fourth of six children of John Francis O’Byrne and Rachael Copeland O’Byrne. He went to grade school at St Mary’s in Urbana, Il. and graduated from Champaign High School in 1943. He enlisted in the United States Navy Air Corps and served two and one half years during World War II. After service, he returned to Champaign and enrolled in the University of Illinois College of Commerce, receiving a degree in 1948. He was a proud member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity. In 1949 he received a Doctor of Law Degree from the University of Illinois Law School and he was admitted to the Illinois Bar in January 1950.

He married his high school sweetheart, Ruth Munkvold O’Byrne, January 27, 1949 at Holy Cross Church. He is survived by his wife of 70 years and his son, Stephen O’Byrne, his daughter, Ellen O’Byrne; and his grandchildren, Meghan McDaniel, Samantha Morris, all of Champaign, Il and James (Jamie) O’Byrne of Grand Rapids, MI and Katherine (Katie) O’Byrne of Chicago, IL. He is also survived by Mary O’Byrne Murray, widow of his late brother Jack O’Byrne. In addition to his brother Jack, he was preceded in death by his sisters Betty McNickle (Mar), Nell Shapland (Bob) and Rachael Sullivan (Jim) and his brother Fiery (Ann and later Faye Beth O’Byrne). He was “Uncle Mike” to generations of Sullivans, Shaplands, McNickles and Murphys.

Mike co-founded the law firm of Reno & O’Byrne (which is now known as O’Byrne, Stanko & Jefferson) in 1950. He practiced law with that same firm for 59 years until his retirement. He was a member of the American, Illinois and Champaign County Bar Associations. He was honored as the Illinois Law School Alum of the Month and received the Service Award as the Pro Bono Attorney of the Year in 2002. In 2009, in recognition of his outstanding career as an attorney and member of the community, he was named a Pillar of the Bar.

He was very active in the community. He was a member of the Board of Directors and then President of the Champaign Urbana Chamber of Commerce, the Champaign County United Way and the Champaign Country Club. Together with his late brother in law, Bob Shapland and others, he was responsible for the creation of Lincolnshire Fields Country Club. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the University of Illinois Alumni Association. He was very involved with CASA and the Hospice Program of Provena Covenant. He was also a founding trustee of the parish of St Matthew Catholic Church in Champaign. He offered unending hours to each of these services that he loved so dearly.

He was very active in sports, especially tennis, golf and handball which together with vigilance with Ruth in monitoring his diet, helped him survive and thrive as a Type 1 diabetic for more than 70 years, He loved trips to a second home on Lake Geneva with family, especially the grandchildren.

He was a devoted member of his church, a dedicated member of his community, and an extraordinary loving husband, father and grandfather. He put his family first, followed by his community and his generosity of heart to those in need. In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory can be made to the American Diabetes Association or Champaign County CASA.

A Funeral Mass will be held on Saturday, August 3, 2019 at St. Matthew Catholic Church, 1303 Lincolnshire Dr., Champaign, IL 61821 at 10:00AM. Burial will be private. There will be a Reception/Celebration of Life that same day at Lincolnshire Fields Country Club, 2000 Byrnebruk Dr., Champaign, IL 61822 starting at 12:00PM

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