John William Schmitz, 88, of Sycamore passed away Monday, May 8, 2023 at his residence.
John was born in rural LaSalle County, Illinois on September 26,1934 to the late Hazel and Frank Schmitz.
In 1952 he married the love of his life Evelyn R. Schmitz not once – but twice! On June 30 they crossed the state border to legally marry in Muscatine County, Iowa before returning to a church wedding in Illinois on July 6.
Over the next 68 years they built a life together that grew to include their five children: Deborah, David, John Jr., Ruth and Peggy, as well as 14 grandchildren and 28 great-grandchildren.
John worked at Owens lllinois Glass Factory in Streator for 38 years, retiring in 1990. Concurrently he honed his skills as a carpenter, electrician, auto mechanic, plumber, craftsman, draftsman, and general handyman as he remodeled and later built the house where he and Evelyn raised their children.
Upon retiring John put his skills to good use when he and Evelyn bought an old farmhouse on the Rock River outside Geneseo. Over the next 20 years they transformed a neglected, run-down house into a beloved country retreat for family and friends. Many fond memories of fishing, berry picking, porch swinging, boating and snowy Christmas celebrations were formed in the house on the hill.
John honed his furniture making skills in his woodshop while making tables, benches, chests, toys, desks, swings, etc. that were gifted to family and friends. Over the years, his talents at remodeling were shared with his children in a variety of home projects from Georgia to Minnesota.
When not immersed in remodeling or creating in his shop, John explored the world with Evelyn. Together they traveled to six continents and visited numerous countries including China, Egypt, Brazil, Australia, and Germany. They also traveled extensively throughout the United States and celebrated their 50th anniversary on an adventure cruise to Alaska. During long Midwestern winters, they often enjoyed a Caribbean cruise with their son’s family.
In their final years John and Evelyn moved to Sycamore, Illinois to be closer to family. John became an arm-chair economist and political commentator and enjoyed staying up to date on current events and the ups and downs of the Cubs and Bears.
John was preceded in death by his wife Evelyn, daughter Ruth, granddaughter Karen, brothers Edward and Eugene, and sisters Ruth Maxine Melrose, Martha Schiffbauer, and Mary Henderson. He is survived by daughters Deborah (James) Paulin of DeKalb, Illinois, and Peggy (Paul) Benkeser of Atlanta, Georgia; sons David (Pam) Schmitz of New Brighton, Minnesota, and John (Bonnie) Schmitz Jr. of Streator, Illinois; as well as several grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, and nephews.
A private ceremony for family will be held at Hillcrest Memorial Park.
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