Timothy McNeil, 45

Autodidact, fantasy enthusiast

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Timothy Allen McNeil, 45, of Forest Park, died Nov. 1 at John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County from complications following an aortic dissection. A longtime resident of Oak Park and Forest Park, he worked for many years behind the deli counter at Jewel-Osco in River Forest and held earlier grocery-related jobs at the old White Hen Pantry on South Boulevard in Oak Park and at the long-defunct Oak Park Market on Oak Park Avenue. He more recently worked at Mariano's in Lincoln Square and two years ago returned to manage the deli at Jewel-Osco in Stickney.

Born on June 18, 1975 and raised in the southwest suburbs, Tim was a 1993 graduate of Carl Sandburg High School in Orland Park. A lifelong autodidact he had a complicated relationship with formal schooling, eventually earning a bachelor's degree in psychology with honors from Roosevelt University in 2008 following earlier efforts at the University of Iowa and Northern Illinois University. He also spent time at Triton College and those classes were among his best experiences in higher education. He had a ranging, curious mind and a decade ago undertook a self-directed, multi-year reading program, which he chronicled in a blog for friends and family. The Forest Park Public Library served as his base of operations for that project.

He was active in the Chicago-area gaming community for several decades. Dungeons and Dragons was a mainstay, but he dabbled in many group roleplaying games. He enjoyed creating fantasy worlds for others to explore at area game stores and at regional and national gaming conventions. He enjoyed immersing himself in fictions and was passionate about movies and books — low-brow, high-brow, and no-brow.

Tim never married and lived for many years with his mother, Brenda B. McNeil, who preceded him in death in 2015. He is survived by his brother, Brett; his sister-in-law, Lindsay Koriath; and his nephew, Ian McNeil, all of Mishawaka, Indiana. Also surviving are multiple aunts and cousins.

Tim's family wants to acknowledge the extraordinary care he received at Stroger Hospital during a lengthy hospitalization. The doctors and nurses of Stroger's SICU and MICU departments deserve special thanks.

Tim was a donor to Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue in Itasca. Cremation was handled by Neptune Society in Downers Grove. A memorial service will take place at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12 inside the Aquatorium in Gary, Indiana's Miller Beach neighborhood. Please write to brettmcneil@gmail.com for information about the service or to RSVP.

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