James E. “Jim” Weis, 86, of Rockford, died Monday, April 14, 2014 at the apropos time of “5 o’clock”, at home in the arms of his children.
He was born Aug. 27, 1927, in St. Marys, the son of Leander “Lee” and Marian (Ryan) Weis.
His family’s legacy was that of restaurants, fine food, and entertaining, and he never met anyone who wasn’t welcome at his table. He met the love of his life, Helene Ann Shuster, at St. Marys High School in 1942. They were married when he returned from the Navy on Aug. 23, 1947.
His attempt to serve his country took an unexpected turn at the base at Camp Peary, Va. where the Officers Club recognized his culinary talents and kept him stateside for their very own. He served until July of 1946 and continued to hone his skills at the Culinary Institute of America, New Haven, Conn. He would continue on to a short stint at Greenbrier Health Resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. in the Allegheny Mountains and then back home to own and manage “The Peacock Restaurant” in St. Marys. His love for fine cooking, candy making, ice carving, and entertaining would gather many friends throughout the world until 1969 when an opportunity to change careers brought him and his family to Rockford.
He began his journey with Pennsylvania Pressed Metals in the midwest and would celebrate “25 Years of Outstanding Sales” before he retired.
Jim and Helene shared 67 years nurturing and creating a loving family of seven children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Jim’s last 18 years were spent selflessly caring for his wife who had Alzheimer’s Disease. His artistic talents included gardening, painting, and carving, and his insatiable quest to learn how to do it well made him a knowledgeable source for all that knew him. He held himself to a high standard of integrity and expected and taught the importance of "respect" in all that he did. His love of fishing and hunting took him on many travels, from Wisconsin to British Columbia, but the best of them were spent with his dearest buddy “Ron.” Their friendship was nurtured by many common interests, a match of wits and sense of humor that could keep you laughing or groaning depending on who delivered “the last line.” It was often said “A better friend there never was.”
He is survived by his children, Mari Jo Weis Dahlgren of Medford, N.J., Alice Bergstrom of Beecher, Ill., Jane (Doug) Weis Proudfoot of Rockford, Beth Ann Weis of Belvidere, Daniel James (Hope) Weis of Deerfield, Ill., James Lee Weis of Rockford, and Matthew James Weis of Minnesota; grandchildren Katarina, Ian, and Sofia Dahlgren, Brent (Stephanie) Bergstrom, Steven Bergstrom, Chelsea, Alice, and Emma Brearley, Cooper Weis Proudfoot, Oliver Morris, Sarah, Benji, and Jacob Weis; great-grandchildren Leighton James Fosberg and MacKenzi Bergstrom; a sister, Joanne (Ken) Gerg of Emporium; sisters-in-law Lil Wehler and Ann Weis; and brother-in-law, John Urmann.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Helene; a sister, Mary Lee Urmann; and brothers Leo “Bunk” Weis and William “Bill” Weis. A heartfelt acknowledgement to Drs. John Dorsey (Tracy), Samuel Apavu, and Vincent Racanelli for their compassionate care and friendship.
A memorial service James E. “Jim” Weis was held Sunday, May 4 at 3 p.m. in Olson Funeral & Cremation Services, Ltd., Fred C. Olson Chapel, 1001 Second Ave., with Rev. Dean Russell officiating. Memorial visitation from 1 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. prior to the service in the funeral home. Memorials may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, 1111 S. Alpine Rd., Suite 307, Rockford, IL 61108. To share a memory or condolence, visit olsonfh.com.