Founder of the Northern Illinois Food Bank passes away at age 83

Sister Rosemarie Burian began feeding the hungry in 1982

GENEVA – The founder of the Northern Illinois Food Bank, Sister Rosemarie Burian, died peacefully on Sept. 22, the nonprofit organization announced in a news release. She was 83.

Sr. Rosemarie began working to feed the hungry in her community in 1982. Shortly after that, Sr. Rosemarie and a team of volunteers and supporters incorporated Bethlehem Center in Carol Stream, which eventually became Northern Illinois Food Bank. Though she moved on to other work in 1986, she continued to serve the organization as part of its Emeritus Board.

“Sr. Rosemarie was a gentle force, inspiring everyone she met to action by serving the needs of others: if not us, who? If not now, when? If not for the kingdom, why?” stated Jim Truesdale, fellow Emeritus Board Member and President of the first Board of Directors, Bethlehem Center, in the news release. “We feel privileged to have known her and to have been involved in the formation of the Food Bank and continue to be influenced by her every day.”

Sr. Rosemarie’s passion was to help the “hidden poor” of DuPage County. She often recounted that people found it hard to believe that there were hungry people in the relative wealth and prosperity of DuPage County, the release stated.

“[Sister is] a testament to the will of one person. To step out in courage, just like our neighbors do every day. She not only provided food, but also provided inspiration for people,” stated Julie Yurko, Northern Illinois Food Bank President and CEO, in the release.

“Sr. Rosemarie believed that no one should go without food,” stated Dennis Smith, former Executive Director & CEO of Northern Illinois Food Bank, in the release. “On several occasions she visited the Food Bank while I was CEO. Her singular concern was if we were providing enough food for our hungry neighbors. Sr. Rosemarie involved entire communities in the fight against hunger. The memory of her actions and leadership will continue to influence us even now that she is no longer with us.”

“[Her legacy is] the power of deep caring and love for one’s community, and that she loved people and trusted God,” said Yurko.