Philanthropist who supported many McHenry County organizations has died

Marian Sanfilippo opened up her Barrington Hills estate to charitable events

Marian Sanfilippo, who with her husband helped nonprofit organizations raise millions of dollars by hosting fundraisers at their famed Barrington Hills estate, has died.

She passed away peacefully at her home Dec. 3 at the age of 88, according to her obituary.

Sanfilippo supported her husband Jasper’s passion for collecting mechanical music machines and vintage steam engines, a collection that grew over the years and led them to construct several additions to showcase it all.

The philanthropists established a family foundation in 2007 to help preserve the artifacts and manage dozens of charitable events that took place there every year. Women’s and children’s organizations were among the first recipients of the couple’s generosity, including the Michael Joseph Foundation, Arden Shore, and their parish, Saint Anne Catholic Community in Barrington. Gradually, they expanded their vision to include charities that also benefited the arts.

Many McHenry County organizations received support from the Sanfilippo Family Foundation over the years, including Pioneer Center for Human Services in McHenry; Home of the Sparrow in Woodstock; McHenry County Adult Program, or McCAP, in Woodstock; Senior Care Volunteer Network, formerly called Faith in Action, based in Crystal Lake; Fox River Grove School District 3 PTO; Animal House Shelter in Huntley; and the Illinois Railway Museum in Union; according to the foundation’s website.

“My parents’ passion was supporting women and children, but they came to see the arts as just as important,” their son Jeffrey Sanfilippo told the Daily Herald after his father’s death in January 2020. “They realized they could educate people about these beautiful instruments and help them learn more about them.”

Marian Sanfilippo attended Providence High School in Chicago and was a 1956 graduate of DePaul University. After graduation, she worked as a second grade teacher, and married Jasper in 1956.

His family’s nut business, John B. Sanfilippo & Son Inc., grew from humble beginnings in Chicago in 1922 to a suburban expansion into Elk Grove Village, Des Plaines, Arlington Heights and its current corporate headquarters in Elgin.

Jasper was succeeded by his son Jeffrey as CEO in 2006.

Marian Sanfilippo is survived by children John (Susan), Jim, Jeffrey (Rusty), Lisa and Jasper (Laura) Sanfilippo, as well as grandchildren, great grandchildren, a brother, nieces and nephews.

Visitation will take place at 10 a.m. Monday, before an 11 a.m. Mass, both at St. Anne, 120 N. Ela St. in Barrington.

Shaw Local News Network contributed.