Family, friends mourn couple found dead after train wreck
Zorine and Burt Lindner. Family photo (Family photo)
The couple's bodies were discovered Thursday in Glenview in the wreckage of a collapsed railroad bridge, which fell under the weight of 28 derailed train cars. Mr. Lindner was 69, and Mrs. Lindner was 70.
"They were the most life-affirming people you could meet," the couple's son Robert Lindner said during a memorial service at Congregation B'nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim in Deerfield.
The couple, married for 46 years, initially met because they both lived in Chicago's Rogers Park neighborhood and both owned a Chevrolet Corvair. Mr. Lindner was washing his Corvair when his future wife stopped to talk to him.
Colleagues said Burton and Zorine Lindner championed the underdogs in their respective professions. Mr. Lindner, who became a lawyer in 1971, always cared more about his conscience than making money, his son said.
In the 1970s, Mr. Lindner represented a gay couple who couldn't agree on the division of property after a breakup. The judge, angry that Mr. Lindner was treating the end of the relationship like a divorce, held him in contempt.
"That was his proudest moment," his son said.
Avi Poster, the retired middle school principal who hired Mrs. Lindner as a school guidance counselor in 1978, said Mrs. Lindner made herself available to students 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He marveled at the couple's connection. When Mr. Lindner had to select a jury for a court case, he asked his wife to sit in the courtroom and offer advice.
The couple's "20-minute rule" -- that family should live no farther than 20 minutes apart -- kept the children connected too, their son said.
The couple's caskets, covered with white roses, were also covered with blanket-stuffed animals put there by their youngest grandchildren, Noah and Anna.
The Lindners spent every Sunday night and Monday with their children and grandchildren and dressed the part with T-shirts touting "One Cool Papa" and "World's Best Bubby."
Mrs. Lindner not only took granddaughter Sari to every flute lesson and stayed to listen, but she also attended every game when daughter-in-law Rhonda coached fifth-grade softball.
Mr. Lindner taught his grandchildren to snorkel in a swimming pool and was videotaped falling off a wave runner with Sari. When he hooked his grandson Zak's nose with a fishing pole, he called the boy's mother, Rhonda, to check the date of Zak's last tetanus shot. He built Sari a dollhouse and took her to London for her 13th birthday.
While in London, Sari recalled her grandmother waiting with her for three hours to catch a glimpse of the cast of the "Harry Potter" film series.
After Hurricane Katrina, the couple traveled together to New Orleans to help rebuild homes damaged by the storm.
Rabbi Brian Stoller, of Congregation B'nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim, called Mr. Lindner a "passionate seeker of knowledge." At Torah study on Saturday mornings, he always found a way of connecting a passage to American law, Stoller said.
"Many of you have expressed surprise and anger at God for not stopping what has happened here and shortening my parents' lives," Robert Lindner said. "That does not comfort me. In my opinion, it is God that gave us our time with these two amazing people. And just as you don't curse when a wonderful concert has ended, I want you to give my parents a standing ovation for the wonderful performance that was their life."
The couple's son Matthew said "there was no better way to go than together. They were each other's world. He was her rock, and he couldn't endure life without her."
The Lindners are also survived by Mrs. Lindner's sisters, Joan Grossman and Sharon Harris; Mr. Lindner's sister Shelly Marotta; and four grandchildren.