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Elmer Howard Burack

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Elmer Howard Burack, age 84, beloved husband for 59 years of Ruth, nee Goldsmith; father of Charles (Mary Ann Konarzewski), Robert (Sharon nee Lederman), and Alan (Dina Luke); and cherished grandfather of Julia, Daniel and Aidan. Burack was an esteemed professor holding multiple academic leadership roles, prolific author of over 20 books, devoted mentor, and organizational consultant. He was loved and admired for his great integrity, humility, brilliance, wisdom, and innumerable accomplishments, as well as for his tireless devotion and counsel to family, friends, students, colleagues, and clients. Born in Oak Park, IL to Charles and Rose Burack, he grew up, along with his older brother Marvin, in the back of his parents tailor shop. Burack attended Oak Park High School, served in World War II as a communications specialist in the U.S. Army Air Corps, and then completed his degree in chemical engineering at the University of Illinois, and shortly thereafter married. For several years he worked as a chemical engineer (at such companies as Victor Tire Co.) and then discovered his true calling. Instead of pursuing a Master's in Chemical Engineering at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), Chicago, he realized he had a passion for business management and enrolled in and completed the M.B.A. program. For a few years he worked as a consultant with Booz Allen Hamilton, and also taught business courses at IIT in Chicago. He loved teaching and was encouraged to get his doctorate, which he pursued in the 1960s at Northwestern University, now with a wife and three young sons. Burack was ahead of his time developing a passion for what was then called "personnel management," and became one of the leading figures in the emerging field of human resource management. One of his many groundbreaking books on the subject included "Human Resource Planning: A Pragmatic Approach to Manpower Staffing and Development." After 15 years at IIT, where he taught industrial management, consulted with companies and government agencies, published books on organization analysis and design, and served as department chair, Burack became a professor and also served as Head of the Department of Management at the University of Illinois, Chicago, and then later granted Professor Emeritus status. Committed to the highest ethical standards, he believed that businesses should be humane and socially responsible, not just profitable. He cared about the growth and development of both individuals and organizations and wrote books on career planning for women as well as career management in organizations. Burack was president of the Midwest Division of the Academy of Management and co-founded the Midwest Human Resource Planner's Group. He was active in B'nai Brith and in North Suburban Synagogue Beth El's Education Committee and Men's Club. Shortly after his own retirement in 1992, Burack wrote a book with his brother on Retiring Retirement, which offered a new growth-oriented approach to the retirement years. He continued to mentor colleagues and former students and enjoyed spending more time with his family. He and Ruth enjoyed traveling as well as attending Elder Hostels and other classes for adult learners. Burack passed away after an extended illness. Funeral Service Thursday, 10 a.m. at North Suburban Synagogue Beth El, 1175 Sheridan Road, Highland Park, IL 60035. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to North Suburban Synagogue Beth El. For information, Shalom Memorial Funeral Home, 847.255.3520 or www.shalom2.com.

Published in a Chicago Tribune Media Group Publication on Aug. 15, 2012
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