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Friends, family remember good done by couple killed in derailment

Burt Lindner 69 Zorine Lindner 70 were married 47 years. | Provided

Burt Lindner, 69, and Zorine Lindner, 70, were married 47 years. | Provided

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Updated: August 10, 2012 6:25AM

Family and friends of Burton and Zorine Lindner filled a Deerfield synagogue Sunday to mourn the couple who died Wednesday in a massive railroad derailment and bridge collapse on Shermer Road along the Glenview-Northbrook border.

The couple’s black Lexus was crushed as they drove under the viaduct a block away from their Glenview home but their bodies were not discovered under the rubble until the next day.

A standing-room-only crowd of about 700 mourners attended an hour-and-45-minute memorial service at B’nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim Synagogue honoring Lindner, 69, and his wife of nearly 47 years, Zorine, 70,

Two caskets were in front of the congregation, covered with white flowers and blankets and stuffed animals contributed by their grandchildren. Behind the caskets was a poster-sized picture of couple kissing each other.

As the Lindners’ friends, children and grandchildren spoke of the couple’s devotion to their family and their generosity to everyone they came in contact with, many among the mourners reached for tissues and handkerchiefs.

Avi Poster, a former middle school principal who hired Zorine Lindner to be a counselor, called her a “world class educator.”

He said that at all hours “kids would line up outside her door to seek her advice, simply say ‘hey’ or just be touched by her. Teachers would do the same thing.”

The couple’s oldest son Rob, who practiced law with his father, described how in the 1970s his father represented a gay man breaking up with his partner. When the judge berated him for even bringing such a case into a courtroom, Lindner stood his ground and wound up being cited for contempt.

“He told me that was one of his proudest moments because he would not let a bully, even one in robes, take away his client’s rights and dignity,” his son said. It was one of many cases in which the elder Lindner represented the underdog.

Many stories were told of the Lindner’s generosity to their children and grandchildren. After their younger son Matt complained that his mother was doing too much for them, he said she replied “My dad and her were given nothing growing up, and they told themselves a long time ago whatever they can give us, they would. So that we would have more opportunity then they did.”

The Lindners were avid travelers, and every year since hurricane Katrina, the couple went New Orleans to help rebuild the city as part of their congregation’s mission.

They also made it a point to take each of their grandchildren separately on a trip to a destination of the grandchild’s choice. Rob Lindner’s daughter, Sari, said her trip to London was a special time to bond with her grandparents. The next trip was scheduled for Sari’s brother Zachary on July 17. Rob Lindner said the trip will still go on because his parents would have wanted it that way.

There was little reference to the way the Lindners died. But Rabbi Isaac Serotta told the mourners that what happened should not shake their faith in God. “This tragedy comes not from God but from the human error of placing profit over people.”

Matt Lindner drew one positive from the tragedy. “There was no better way for my parents to go than together. They were each other’s world...I only wish their death together would have come 30 years from now.”

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