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DANVILLE — John L. (Jack) Kocurek, 89, died Tuesday (Nov. 23, 2021) at Accolade Healthcare of Danville. John Louis Kocurek Jr. was born on March 9, 1932, the first child of John L. Kocurek Sr. and Garnet Elizabeth Elliott, in Midway, a neighborhood of just two short streets off Route 1 halfway between Westville and Georgetown.

He is survived by his neice Garnet (Frank) Nixon; nephew, Greg (Cathleen) Swann; niece Gretchen (Greg) Fegett, and her sons, Jonathan Gilbreath, Zechariah Chantos and Gabriel Chantos; niece Kerrie Gill and her daughters, Kellie Jo Smith and Samantha Gill; and niece Molly (Tom) Montgerard and her daughter, Reese Montgerard.

He was preceded in in death by his parents; brother, Mark Kocurek; and sister, Garnet Pfeifer.

A lifelong member of St. Mary’s Church in Westville, Jack attended St. Mary’s elementary school and Schlarman high school, graduating in 1950 in the first Schlarman class to have attended all four years. After high school, Jack joined the Navy, doing his initial training at Great Lakes Naval Academy, and then going on to Naval machinists training in San Diego. After finishing training in 1952, he served on the USS Kermit Roosevelt,

Jack was discharged from the Navy in 1955 but remained on reserve status through 1959. His work as a machinist in the Navy led him to enroll in the David Rankin Technical College in St Louis. He completed the two-year program in drafting and mechanical engineering, graduated in December 1957, and by January 1958, he landed a job as a tool and die maker at Hyster, where he worked until retiring in 1989.

Jack played as hard as he worked. He was an avid outdoorsman who enjoyed camping. hunting and fishing with a group of close friends. His trips to Canada to fish for walleye were an annual event that he planned for all year. Jack was also a skilled trap and skeet shooter who competed in events all around the Midwest. His shooting awards and trophies filled boxes. Jack enjoyed woodworking as well. After he retired, he enlisted the help of his friends to build a giant woodworking shop and filled it with every tool imaginable, and he custom built cabinets, benches and tables to accommodate both his woodworking tools and reloading equipment for skeet shooting. He christened this building “the Sandbox” because it was where he went to play.

Jack Kocurek was a gifted man who lived an exemplary life surrounded by loving family and extraordinary friends. He always did the right thing for the right reasons, and always with a smile. 

Visitation will be from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 29, at Sunset-Urbas Funeral Home, 414 S. State St., Westville, IL 61883. A rosary service will take place prior to the visitation Monday at 3:30 p.m. A funeral Mass will take place Tuesday, Nov. 30, at 10 a.m. at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 231 N. State St., Westville. Father Sauppé will be leading Mass. Jack will be laid to rest in St. Peter and Paul Cemetery, Westville, at a later date.

Please join his family in sharing memories, photos and videos on his tribute wall at sunsetfuneralhome.com.

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