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2023 November 22nd: Jim Blackburn

James J. “Jim” Blackburn, age 72, of Shorewood, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, November 22, 2023 at Edward Hospital in Naperville due to complications from a scheduled cardiac procedure. Born April 1, 1951 to Catherine (Plitt) and William Blackburn Sr. as the fourth of ten children, Jim was a lifelong Joliet/Shorewood resident. He was raised on Western Avenue and attended St. John the Baptist Grade School before graduating from Joliet Catholic High School, Class of 1969. At Catholic High, he developed a passion for basketball and went on to further his education and play basketball at Joliet Junior College. On the basketball court, he earned his lifelong nickname of “Turkey” which was later shortened to “Turk.” Jim had a long, fulfilling career with Osco Drug, managing countless stores in Chicagoland and Indiana. He retired in 2009 after 37 years of service. After his initial retirement, he began a 7-year career as a medical waste hauler for Advanced Environmental Systems.

Jim enjoyed being an involved citizen. He participated in local civic affairs, served on the board of directors for Troy Baseball League, spent countless hours coaching youth basketball and baseball, served many years as a Will County election judge, and served as president of the HOA board at his lakeside vacation residence in Indiana. He also served on the Minooka School District 201 Board of Education, where he was chairman of the finance committee and was extremely proud of leading the charge to build Walnut Trails Elementary School in Shorewood. Jim thoroughly enjoyed handyman projects, whether improving his own home or helping family and neighbors.

He enjoyed listening to all genres of music, but especially 1960’s and 70’s classics, of which he could recall the year and artist of any song that was on the radio. Coinciding with his passion for listening to music, Jim often reminisced of his days playing various brass instruments in the Joliet Catholic grade school and high school bands. Even into adulthood, Jim stayed active in athletics by playing in local softball and basketball leagues. Known for his gift of gab, he is famous for tales as tall as his six-foot-six-inch frame.

Jim’s greatest joy was his family. He was a constant fixture at his children’s activities, either as a fan or coach and his support extended to his six grandchildren in all their activities. More than anything, he loved teaching all his grandchildren to “drive the boat” on Lake Freeman in Monticello, Indiana. His family spent countless hours relaxing and participating in water sports on the lake being led by their beloved “Captain Big Guy”. This moniker, given to him by his grandchildren, was fitting of both his stature and booming personality.

Jim is survived by his beloved wife of 46 years, Diane (Gerl) Blackburn of Shorewood; three cherished children, Lauren (Tim) Morris of Shorewood, Kevin (Sarah) Blackburn of Shorewood, and Ryan Blackburn of Tampa, Florida; six dearly loved grandchildren, Katelyn, Madelyn, Luke, Blake, Emily and Casey; siblings Cathy Rebuffoni, Jan (Peter) Fried, Candi (Ted) Ficken, John (Patty) Blackburn, Dennis Blackburn, Judy (Roger) Kreig, Carol Blackburn (Patrick O’Connor) and Jeff (Faye) Blackburn; in- laws Nancy Blackburn, Bill (Patt) Gerl, Chuck (Cindi) Gerl, and numerous nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents, brother William Blackburn Jr., brother and sisters-in-law Dean Rebuffoni, Cindy Blackburn and Julie Blackburn and his wife’s parents, Bernie and Bernadine Gerl. Visitation for Jim will be held Friday, December 1, 2023, from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm at Tezak’s Home to Celebrate Life, 1211 Plainfield Rd. Joliet, IL. A private interment will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials to Young Hearts 4 Life, which provides free cardiac screenings for students to detect conditions which may cause sudden cardiac death. Their address is 1901 S Meyers Rd. Suite 350, Oak Brook Terrace, IL 60181.

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