Allen M. Abrams, co-founder of the Chicago-based accounting firm Ostrow Reisin Berk & Abrams, Ltd., has died after a brief illness at the age of 81, on Oct. 27, 2013, his firm announced.

“Al’s leadership shaped the culture here at ORBA,” said managing director Mark Thomson in a statement. “He had remarkable talent for creating lasting relationships and helping his clients. He was equally passionate about mentoring our staff and developing relationships inside the firm.”

Abrams was born in Paw Paw, Mich., and graduated from the University of Michigan, earning both a B.S., magna cum laude, in Accounting, and an M.B.A., summa cum laude. He was a member of the University of Michigan’s Marching Band and attended the university’s homecoming last month to march with the alumni band. 

He joined Touche Ross & Company as a staff accountant in 1954 and later became a partner at Miller, Mandell & Company and Laventhol & Horwath.

In November 1977, he and six other partners left Laventhol and founded Ostrow Reisin Berk & Abrams, Ltd. He brought his experience and leadership to the firm and helped to lay the foundation of client service that allowed the firm to thrive and grow 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 and I go back nearly 50 years together,” said Kal Shiner, one of ORBA’s co-founders. “He treated clients like his own family. He was determined that ORBA keep its feeling of a small, family business. He will be sorely missed, but not forgotten.”

Abrams’ 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. 

For many years, he was an active member in many professional organizations, including the American Institute of CPAs, 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. He was also a longtime member of Temple Jeremiah in Northfield, Ill. 

Abrams is survived by his wife of 58 years, the former Isabel Simms, 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.  

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