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James J. Walsh

PONTIAC, Ill. — Mr. James J. "Jim" Walsh, 84, of Pontiac, Ill., and formerly of the Verona-Kinsman area, passed away at 4:04 a.m. Monday, Dec. 24, 2012, at St. James-John W. Albrecht Hospital in Pontiac with his loving family by his side.

Born Feb. 29, 1928,, in Morris, James was the son of the late Robert H. Walsh and Evangeline Heppner Walsh. Jim was a proud descendant of Irish immigrants that came to America for a better life.

Growing up in the Verona area, he received his education in the Verona and Mazon schools, graduating as valedictorian of Mazon High School's Class of 1946.

On Jan. 9, 1949, Jim married his high school sweetheart, Betty L. Hintze, who preceded him in death on July 29, 2000, after 51 years of marriage. They grain farmed in the Verona area and raised tomatoes for the Campbell Soup Company for five years. They also raised registered Angus cattle, showing and selling them around the United States. During the 1970s, Jim also delivered fuel for his family's Grundy County Oil Company.

In the fall of 2001, Jim met Phyllis Bolen Schmidt on a blind date. This chance meeting evolved into their marriage on Sept. 9, 2001, and he became a member of another loving, extended family. Together, Jim and Phyllis enjoyed dancing and card playing, but most of all he loved her baking ... especially her pies.

Upon retiring from farming, Jim was known for his carpentry skills ... generously giving away many of his woodworking projects. He was also an avid gardener, especially with tomatoes, and he loved spending time with family and friends, sharing stories of his youth or telling a recent joke he had heard.

Jim was a member of St. Mary's Catholic Church of Pontiac, and was a past member of Sacred Heart Church of Kinsman. He enjoyed watching Chicago Bears football, RFD TV and the Triple Crown races. His favorite vacations were in Florida.

Jim leaves behind his wife Phyllis; his four children, Kathleen (Doug) Lowery of Mazon, Jay (Debra) Walsh of Kinsman, Susan Walsh of Atlantic Beach, Fla., and John (Jodi) Walsh of Mazon. Also surviving are step-children, Marie (Lee) Bunting of Dwight, Gene (Diane) Schmidt of Hannah, Ind., Kay (Rick) Merrill of Atlanta, Ill., and Dean (Faith) Schmidt of Peoria, Ill.; sisters-in-law, Ruth Walsh and Carolyn (Dale) DeGrush, both of Mazon; seven grandchildren; six great-grandchildren (with one on the way); numerous step-grandchildren and step great-grandchilden; plus his nieces and nephews.

Jim was preceded in death by his parents; his first wife, Betty, in 2000; his brother, William F. Walsh, in 1979; and a sister, Elizabeth Brady Uerkwitz, in 1972.

As it was Jim's final wish, cremation rites will be accorded.

A memorial mass will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012, at Sacred Heart Church, Kinsman. Fr. John Hornicak will officiate.

There will be a one hour visitation prior to mass.

Family will receive friends and relatives from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 28, at Hager Memorial Home, Dwight.

In lieu of flowers, preferred memorials may be made as gifts to Sacred Heart Church of Kinsman or Ward Cemetery of Verona.

Hager Memorial Home, 201 West Mazon Ave., Dwight, Ill., is in charge of arrangements. For more information, call (815) 584-2666 or (815) 584-2477.

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