Richard Orlikoff, 1923 – 2015

Richard Orlikoff, 1923 - 2015
Richard Orlikoff, 1923 – 2015

Richard Orlikoff, legal counsel for the Hyde Park Herald and Hyde Park resident for over 60 years, died Thursday, Dec. 10. He was 92.

Orlikoff was born in New Jersey on July 23, 1923 to Samuel and Blanche Orlikoff. After high school he attended the University of Michigan where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Orlikoff attended the University of Chicago (U. of C.) Law School on a G.I. Bill after serving as communications officer on a U. S. destroyer in World War II. While at the law school he met and married his fellow collegiate Jeanne. They purchased a townhome in the first group of town houses built in Hyde Park during the Urban Renewal of the 1950s.

While in law school, Orlikoff led a movement to establish a legal aid clinic at the U. of C. and continued his efforts as a practicing lawyer. As chairman of the Chicago Bar Association’s Legal Aid Committee he saw his efforts come to fruition. The Mandel Legal Aid Clinic lists him as its first alumnus, although the clinic did not come into existence until five years after Orlikoff graduated.

In the early years as a lawyer Orlikoff was active in politics, serving as political action chairman of the Independent Voters of Illinois. He represented the Sheriff of Cook County and the State Treasurer of Illinois when Joseph D. Lohman held those posts. After managing Lohman’s losing campaign for Governor of Illinois Orlikoff left politics to concentrate on his law practice.

Orlikoff, a specialist in Anti-Trust law, represented motion picture theater owners in numerous anti-trust lawsuits against major theater chains and studios. Subsequently he represented community newspaper publishers and distributors when the nation’s major daily newspapers attempted to have congress pass legislation exempting combinations of daily newspaper from the Anti-Trust laws.

Orlikoff served as counsel to the Hyde Park Herald for over 55 years.
Live theater was among Orlikoff’s abiding interests. Commencing with a U. of C. group known as Tonight at 8:30, Orlikoff represented the group, pro bono, when it became Playwright’s Theater Club. He defended Playwrights against several lawsuits brought by the City of Chicago under a licensing ordinance, which effectively prevented live theater from being presented in off-Loop locations. Ultimately the licensing ordinance was revised and off-Loop theater became a vibrant part of Chicago’s cultural life. When Playwrights ceased to function Orlikoff continued to represent an outgrowth, improvisational group known as Compass Theater, which performed in Hyde Park and many other places. Some of the Compass players went on to form Second City.

In the McCarthy era, when thousands of Americans were accused of being communists or communist sympathizer and became subject to aggressive government and private sector investigations, the Senate Subcommittee on Internal Affairs held hearings in Chicago and subpoenaed two city officials and the executive director of a Jewish Home for the Aged. Orlikoff represented the executive director, also a Hyde Parker. Orlikoff and his client appeared before the committee, where Orlikoff announced that the committee lacked the constitutional authority to question his client’s political beliefs and they walked out of the hearing room without submitting to the questions. On behalf of the subpoenaed witnesses Orlikoff and the attorneys for the city officials brought a lawsuit to declare the committee’s subpoenas invalid as an unconstitutional invasion of political beliefs. The late U. of C. Professor Harry Kalvin joined Orlikoff as co-counsel in the lawsuit. Seven years later the suit was settled. No action was ever taken against the subpoenaed witnesses.

A life-long supporter of the cooperative movement, having worked his way to a University of Michigan B.A. by waiting tables at the Wolverine Co-op, Orlikoff served two terms as a director of the Hyde Park Co-op, for many years the neighborhood’s main grocery store. Representing, again pro bono, a group of long-time Co-op members who opposed the acquisition of the ill-fated 47th Street Co-op expansion, Orlikoff succeeded in obtaining an injunction setting aside a Co-op election held in violation of the Co-op’s charter. He and several members of the group won all the open positions in the subsequent election, but due to the staggered terms of the Co-op’s directors they did not achieve a majority of the Co-op’s Board and could not halt the fatal acquisition of the 47th Street store, which led to the demise of the Co-op.

Orlikoff’s wife Jeanne preceded him in death.

Orlikoff is survived by three sons James (Anita), Michael and Daniel (Laura) and four grandchildren Rachel, David, Treyton and Carter.

At Orlikoff’s request no memorial service or visitation service will be planned.