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James Byron Jurgens

James Byron Jurgens, 81, of Arthur, Illinois passed away peacefully in Arthur, Illinois, on Saturday, March 18, 2023.

He was born on December 31, 1941 in Urbana, Illinois, to Ervin L. Jurgens and Dorothy B. Jurgens.  He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Patricia; son, David (Mary) Jurgens of Sanibel Island, Florida; daughter, Jennifer (Thomas) Murphy of Charleston, South Carolina; daughter, Kathryn Lofy of Kirkland, Washington; and son Michael (Melissa) Jurgens of Riverside, Illinois; grandchildren Jack Jurgens, Hailey Jurgens, Taylor Jurgens, Gavin Murphy, Parker Murphy, Connor Lofy, Kyle Lofy, Ella Jurgens, Henry Jurgens and Hazel Jurgens; one sister, Janet Winningham of Arcola. Jim attended Arthur High School, Culver Academy, Northwestern University (’64), and the University of Illinois Law School (’67).

When Jim was in college at Northwestern University, he took a class from Bergen Evans, a popular literature professor and television personality.  The book that stuck with him most was a satire, Candide, written by Voltaire.  It was a tale of an innocent young man who was trying to find a philosophy that would guide him through life. In the end, after much suffering, he decides that it was simply best to “cultivate his own garden” —to find something you love and do it well. That phrase, repeated frequently by Jim throughout life, guided him or simply matched what was bred in him as he grew up in Arthur.  His life revolved around dedication to work and his own beloved family.  His first career of 32 years was spent at the First National Bank of Chicago in the Law Department.  A fellow banker said, “He was far and away the best bank attorney that I ever worked with providing solid advice.  He was always so intent in assuring that we charted the right path in whatever it was we were working on to assure that we did the right thing.” After that he embarked on a second career of almost 20 years in the State Bank of Arthur following in his father’s footsteps.  Jim found great satisfaction in thoroughly throwing himself into his job and doing it in the best way he could.  Only Covid-19 sent him into retirement at the age of 78.  Jim adored his family–wife of 57 years, four children and spouses and ten grandchildren spread all over the country from Seattle to Chicago to South Carolina to Florida to Arizona and Michigan.  Family holidays and trips were the highlight of his life.  He also loved Arthur from his nurturing experience in the Class of 1960 with great classmates to his return to live on the actual prairie in his Prairie style Frank Lloyd Wright house.  Jim raved about the view, marveling in its picturesque flat expanse of blue sky and fertile farmland.  Jim did indeed use the talents he was given to work hard and to “cultivate his own garden”—not a bad life philosophy to emulate.

Visitation will be held on Friday, March 31, 2023, from 4-6 p.m. at the Arthur United Methodist Church, 128 E. Illinois Street.  His life will be celebrated at 11:00 a.m. at the Arthur United Methodist Church.  In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Arthur Home in Jim’s memory, 423 Eberhardt Drive, Arthur, Illinois 61911. The staff there patiently cared for Jim and supported Patty. Shrader Funeral Home, Arthur, is assisting the family with arrangements.

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