James Casselberry, 85, Remembered Fondly

Casselberry of Lake Forest, died Jan. 25 at age 85. He was a well-liked business man and the first African American to own property on Sheridan Road in town. His wake is Thursday and funeral is Friday.

A for prominent Lake Forest businessman James Arthur Casselberry Sr., who was known as a man of "firsts."

Casselberry was the first African-American permitted to own property on Sheridan Road, according to a local historian in a story posted on the Gazebo News. 

Born in Lake Forest, Casselberry, 85, passed away Jan. 25 after a prolonged illness. He is survived by his wife, Mary of 60 years, three children and five grandchildren.

Casselberry ran his business, Casselberry and Son, Ltd., until he retired in 2006, according to his obituary from the Wenban Funeral Home.

"A legend. We will miss him," posted Deborah Saran on the Lake Forest Patch Facebook.

"What a terrific member of the Lake Forest community! Generous, historically-oriented, with Mary very supportive of students of color, Lake Forest College, and one of the last of a long line going back to Samuel Dent of LF African-American local entrepreneurs/small business owners. It was an honor to know him!" posted Arthur H. Miller.

Miller, a Lake Forest historian, also told the Gazebo News that Casselberry grew up in the oldest African-American section of Lake Forest, near the corner of Illinois and Washington roads.

As a man, Casselberry's septic-tank maintenance business, Casselberry and Son, Ltd., thrived as unincorporated Lake County added more new homes in the 1970s and 1980s.

The business, which was sold when Casselberry retired in 2006, was one of the last African-American owned local businesses, reported the Gazebo News.

Remembering Casselberry

Friends of Casselberry from across the country have posted condolences on a memorial guestbook at legacy.com.

"Mrs. Casselberry, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your children. I have always thought of you and Mr. Casselberry as my adopted Illinois grandparents. His kindness and humor will be truly missed," wrote Amy Gentry, of Houston, Texas, on Casselberry's memorial guestbook.

"Bobby and I counted Jim as a true friend while growing up.We proudly watched him pioneer your successful business and you Mary,...foster and nurture amazing children who will carry on the Casselberry legacy," wrote Marian Clark Tyler, of San Diego, Calif., on Casselberry's guestbook.

Funeral Services

Casselberry's wake will be held at Wenban Funeral Home at 320 Vine Ave., in Lake Forest, on Thursday, Jan. 31 from 5 to 8 pm.

Funeral Services will be Friday, Feb. 1, at First Presbyterian Church of Lake Forest, 700 N. Sheridan Rd., in Lake Forest. The viewing will begin at 10 a.m. and service at 11 a.m. Interment at Lake Forest Cemetery at 800 N. Field Dr.


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