Irwin J. Askow was born in Chicago on April 2, 1915 and died peacefully in Evanston Hospital, Evanston, Ill., on Feb. 16. He spent parts of almost every summer, from 1948 on, in Chilmark. He loved Menemsha sunsets, Windy Gates Beach and all things up-Island.
The son of immigrant bakers, he put himself through the University of Chicago (AB '36, JD '38.) In addition, he received the Distinguished Service Alumni Award from the University of Chicago in 1968. He practiced law until recently, mostly for the Loop law firm of Tenney & Bentley.
He funded the Irwin Askow Housing Initiative at the University of Chicago Law School in 2002; the Initiative facilitates lawyers in offering free legal services in all aspects of affordable housing. He received the Roger Baldwin Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in 2004 in recognition of his ongoing contributions to civil liberties.
He is a past trustee and Village President of Winnetka, where he raised his family. He served as trustee and officer on numerous boards, including the Welfare Council of Metropolitan Chicago, The University Club of Chicago, North Shore Country Day School, and Bennington College.
He was predeceased by his wife of 35 years, Esther; and his daughter, Susan. His second marriage of 22 years to Elizabeth Lilienfield ended in divorce in 2002. He survived by his children, Daniel Askow of Chicago, Ill., and Catherine Thompson of Lake Forest and past Chilmark Public Library director (1988 to 2006); and his grandsons, Nathan and Andrew.
He loved baking bread, reading and discussing literature, gardening, bridge, symphony, art, and reading.
Funeral arrangements are private. There will be a memorial service in the future, with the time, date, and location to be determined. In lieu of flowers, please consider contributions to the Greater Chicago Food Depository, 4100 West Ann Lurie Place, Chicago, Il 60632; the American Civil Liberties Union, visit www.aclu.org; or a charity of choice.