ALLEN M. ABRAMS
Allen M. Abrams, a prominent Chicago accountant and co-founder of Ostrow Reisin Berk & Abrams, Ltd., passed away after a brief illness on October 27, 2013. Al was born in Paw Paw, Michigan on January 1, 1932. He graduated from Paw Paw High School and attended the University of Michigan, earning both a B.S., magna cum laude, in Accounting, and an M.B.A., summa cum laude. Al was a proud member of the University of Michigan’s Marching Band. As he often did, Al attended homecoming just last month to march into the Big House with the alumni band.
Following his graduation, he enlisted and served in the Army Reserves. Thereafter, he and Isabel Simms, whom he met at the University of Michigan in 1952, were married and moved to Chicago, where he joined Touche Ross & Company as a staff accountant. Later, he became a partner at Miller, Mandell & Company and Laventhol & Horwath, where he built a successful and loyal following of clients in his accounting and tax practice.
In November of 1977, Al and six of his partners left Laventhol and founded Ostrow Reisin Berk & Abrams, Ltd. Al brought his significant experience and leadership to the firm and helped to lay the foundation of client service that allowed the firm to thrive and grow organically from 12 to 120 employees. Today, ORBA is ranked among the top 150 largest accounting firms in the country and the 17th largest in Chicago.
Al’s dedication to client needs has been instilled in the firm and drives the practice model followed today. He met regularly with employees and future leaders to talk about what being part of the firm meant and the satisfaction that all should get from working and helping clients with their needs. Whether speaking to clients, employees or friends, Al’s professionalism and passion for helping his clients was evident.
He was also actively involved in mentoring and training many of the directors who now lead the firm, taking them to client meetings, teaching them how to handle business issues and later, acting as an advocate for their advancement to director.
His leadership helped shape the culture of the firm. Al provided guidance to employees, always reminding them that taking care of people and relationships – both professionally and personally – is what working at ORBA is about. He was determined that ORBA keep its feeling of a small, family business.
For many years, Al was an active member in many professional organizations, including the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Illinois CPA Society (Former Member, Committees on Education Standards and Human Resources), and DFK International Accountancy Group (Former Chair, Marketing Committee). He was a member and former officer of the University of Michigan Alumni Association (Local Chapter), and taught several accounting courses at DePaul University. Al was also a longtime member of Temple Jeremiah in Northfield, Illinois.
The Abrams raised two daughters, Meryl and Laurel, one living on the east coast and the other in Hawaii. Al’s pride and joy were his grandchildren. He made it a point to speak with them daily and see them often. One of his greatest pleasures was planning family trips so that they could spend time together.
As a young man, Al’s dream was to be a baseball sportscaster. For his 80th birthday, his family presented him with tickets to have breakfast with two ESPN sportscasters and they, in turn, invited him into the sportscaster’s booth during a Sunday evening baseball game.
He was also immensely proud of his wife Isabel’s work as a founder of Caretakers of the Environment, an international organization that helps teachers and children learn about the environment, which has grown to more than 300 people in 15 countries.
Al is survived by his wife of 58 years, Isabel, his children, Laurel Neme and her husband Chris, of Vermont, and Meryl Abrams, of Hawaii; and five grandchildren, Gabriel, Kiran, Talia and Kalae Abrams, and Jackson Neme.
In addition to his wife, daughters and grandchildren, Al leaves ORBA, his clients and friends with a lasting legacy of love, loyalty and leadership.