John L.(Jack) Kocurek died on Tuesday, November 23, 2021, at Accolade Health center of Danville. He was 89. John Louis Kocurek Jr. was born on March 9th, 1932, the first born 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; his nephew Greg (Cathleen) Swann; his niece Gretchen (Greg) Fegett, and her sons Jonathan Gilbreath, Zechariah Chantos, and Gabriel Chantos ; his niece Kerrie Gill and her daughters Kellie Jo Smith and Samantha Gill, and his niece Molly (Tom) Montgerard and her daughter Reese Montgerard. He was preceded in in death by his parents and by his brother Mark Kocurek and his 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, California. After finishing training in 1952, he served on the U.S.S. 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 to enroll in the David Rankin technical school in St Louis. He completed the two year program in drafting and mechanical engineering, graduated in December of 1957, and by January of 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 his 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.
A visitation will be held from 4:00 pm until 6:00 pm on Monday, November 29, 2021 at Sunset- Urbas Funeral Home located at 414 S State St. Westville, Illinois 61883. A Rosary Service will take place prior to the visitation on Monday at 3:30 pm. A Funeral Mass will take place on Tuesday, November 30, 2021 at 10:00 am at St. Mary’s Catholic Church located at 231 N. State Street in Westville. Father Sauppé will be leading Mass. Jack will be laid to rest at St. Peter and Paul Cemetery in Westville at a later date.