<< back

James Kolar
(11-20-1923 - 07-26-2020)

View guest book | Sign guest book

James (Jim) Frank Kolar, 96, of Fox River Grove, IL passed away quietly on Sunday, July 26, 2020 at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, IL after being found unresponsive at his residence. Jim was born on November 20, 1923 in Chicago, IL to James Frank Kolar and Marie (Minovsky) Kolar. His family moved to Fox River Grove where James and his sister, Helen, grew up among the first Czech immigrants that made Fox River Grove their new home in the 1920’s. Jim was an avid fisherman and hunter, and enjoyed these sports throughout his lifetime with his family and friends. He hunted for wild game, fished the rivers, lakes and streams of Northern Illinois year-’round, hunted mushrooms (keeping their whereabouts like a ‘trade secret’), and trapped mink along the Fox River. These activities sustained their family and others during the Great Depression. Jim attended middle school in Fox River Grove learning English as his second language and graduated from Crystal Lake Community High School. In 1943, Jim volunteered to serve in the Armed Forces during WWII, and earned a Silver Battle Star serving in the European, African and Middle Eastern Theaters. After the war, he returned home to earn his BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, often crossing Michigan Avenue to listen in on Chicago Symphony Orchestra rehearsals and elsewhere in Chicago to some of the finest jazz legends that ever performed in the jazz clubs of the 1950’s. Dad loved to tell the story of how tickled he was sitting just a few feet away from Sarah Vaughan in a jazz club, as he requested that she sing the song “I Cover the Waterfront’. He would then do his best to imitate her sultry voice and her graceful movements in replying: ‘“I Cover the Waterfront”, for this gentleman right here.’ His long career as a graphic designer began at Hunter Publishing House in Rockford, IL and finally at the American Medical Association as a graphic designer for their esteemed publication, ‘Prism’, which he dressed with alluring colors and illustrations all by hand and a keen eye; before ‘Macs’ were even a fanciful dream. In 1965, he met the love of his life in Jeanne Kraus and they married after a short courtship in Barrington, IL. Jeanne and Jim enjoyed gardening, growing vegetables, flowers (especially roses), fruit trees, camping in the boundary waters of Canada with their children in summers and braved the ups and downs of raising their blended family together: John, Carol, Jeanmarie and Jodi. They worked like a well-tuned Swiss watch at summers' harvest to pick, preserve and pickle all types of vegetables and to distill both fruit-based wines and European-style beers. Both Jim and Jeanne served on the FRG village planning commission, fiercely defending environmental causes and the preservation of Fox River Grove’s natural environment for future generations. In their later years, Jeanne and Jim often travelled together to visit their children and grandchildren in Iowa and Michigan. To his family, Jim would pass on his love of good food, polka dancing, art, a love for the natural environment, fishing, hunting, and of course--finding those mushrooms. James was an ‘unofficial’ Fox River Grove historian and having lived in the ‘Grove all his life, he was sought out for contributions to news stories about the history, the people and development of Fox River Grove, from its earliest origins. He had a sharp mind and memory to the end, loved a good laugh, classic movies, and a dry martini, always with three olives. Tales of his humor, jokes and antics are legendary. A harmless practical jokester, his wit and humor would surprise and disarm, keeping us in stitches and always coming back for more. He was bilingual (Czech and English) and studied other languages, regularly. He was well-read, had an impressive vocabulary, a radio-worthy speaking voice, was a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ and had a curious mind, which made him a life-long learner and an excellent conversationalist. James was predeceased by his parents, Frank and Marie, his wife, Jeanne, his step-son, John, and his sister, Helen K. Allen. Because of Covid, a private ceremony will be held in Windridge Memorial Park and Nature Sanctuary in Cary, IL on August 6, 2020 with Military Honors. A memorial to celebrate Jim’s life will be held at a later date, tbd, with family and friends. The family is being served by Laird Funeral Home, Elgin IL. The family would like to especially thank all those that enriched and supported his independent living at home, in his later years. The nurses and staff of Home Based Care at the VA, Senior Services, the Senior Volunteer Network, the staff and caregivers at Home Instead and European Services and the Cary-Grove Food Pantry and Catholic Services for Meals on Wheels. His dear friends, Patti O, Carl B, Linda, Carol K, most recent caregivers Sandy and Elvira (Ella), Maggie at the PD, the entire FRG police and fire department, Tracey and other past caregivers and numerous friends and neighbors that helped to keep an eye on him, lend a hand, sit for a chat, bring over a casserole or a plate of baked goods once in a while. James is survived by his daughters, Jeanmarie (Tom) Riccobono, of Traverse City, MI and Jodi (Tom) Landeros of Conroy, IA a step-daughter, Carol Schaefer of Menifee, CA, a daughter-in-law, Susan Kolar, Cary, IL his grandchildren David, Robyn, Noelle, Michael and Gabrielle, James and Marie, Brian, great grandchildren Ashton, Faith, Payton and Brooklyn. His nieces, Mary Watkins of Presque Isle, WI and Sue (Doug) Morrison of Crivitz, WI , nephews Don (Patti) Sandman of IN and Bryan (Deb) Allen of Peoria, their children and grandchildren, a sister-in-law and brother-in-law Fay and Dwight Sandman, of Star Lake, WI and of course, last but not least, his ever-faithful dog, Zacharius Wellington Doubleday Schwartz, III. Memorial contributions in his name can be made to: The American Indian College Fund https://engage.collegefund.org/page/17083/donate/1 Please share your thoughts and memories of Jim with the family at Memories.net ‘...It matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate, I am the Captain of my soul’ - from ‘Invictus’ by William E. Henley, (1870-1903).  Graveside services with Military Honors will be held on Thursday, August 6, 2020 at 10:00 AM at Windridge Memorial Park, 7014 S. Rawson Bridge Rd., Cary.  Wait Ross Allanson Funeral & Cremation Services Chapel, 51 Center St., Elgin.  847-742-2100 or www.lairdfamilyfuneralservices.com. 

home | obituaries | locations | services | about | contact
©2013 Laird Funeral Home and Wait Ross Allanson Funeral & Cremation Service
Elgin Web Design & Development by Victoria Lantz