Trust the Torch!

Gibson ‘Gib’ Kurtz Jr., 88

For the past decade, if you called our father and reached his voicemail, you would have heard: “This is Gib Kurtz. Possibly I’m alive and possibly I’m not, but I’ll try to get back to you if I am.” A view into Gib’s love of life and recognition of death. 

On Dec. 3, Gibson Cochran Kurtz Jr. passed away at the age of 88 years young. Gib was a great athlete, a creative, prolific wood craftsman, and a well-respected high school teacher and coach. Gib was driven and passionate about everything he did. He also was an expert linguist of proper English – regularly correcting his adult daughters’ grammar. 

Gib attended East St. Louis High School, where he played basketball. He was a first-team all-state selection his senior season. At Southern Illinois University, he was a basketball superstar. He lettered all four years, was team captain, MVP, and set a new individual scoring record for the Salukis.

While in the Army, Gib played goalie for their German soccer team and led the team to win the European championship in 1956. He told his sister they had to let him play goalie because “he couldn’t keep his hands off the ball.” 

After graduation, Gib coached the SIU freshman basketball team, and then came to Woodstock, Ill., in 1958 as a driver’s education teacher and athletic coach. He led the Woodstock High School cross-country team to win the North Suburban Conference title as well as become the school’s first cross-country team to run at a state meet. He successfully coached the school’s basketball team to the regional playoffs. 

Gib continued to display his athletic prowess through the years, winning the Illinois state master’s class racquetball championship in 1988. Later in life, he took up the sport of golf and became extremely competitive. Even though Gib was always driven to win, what was most important to him was embodying sportsmanship and graciousness. 

No one in Woodstock could forget our dad’s store, “The Hayloft,” where good times were had by all and numerous pieces of barnwood furniture were created. His store sign was a welcoming “Yes, We’re Closed.” 

Gib retired to Fernandina Beach, Fla., where he continued to make his wood “objet d’art” and play pickleball regularly. 

Gib is survived in death by his wife, Eunice, and her four children; his previous wife, Suzanne Kurtz; and his sister, “B.J.” Becky Jane Jones. He will be sorely missed by his daughters, Paige and Johanna, as well as his grandchildren, Eliana, Elliot, Luke, and Chase. 

Gib is preceded in death by his sister, “Mikie” Dorothy McCormick Kurtz Elliott; his mother, “Dorty” Dorothy Dillworth McCormick Kurtz; and his father, “Binksie” Gibson Cochran Kurtz Sr.

Gib will be honored in a private “celebration of life” at the Woodstock Country Club in June 2022. We will honor his genuine, colorful personality, play Irish music, smoke cigars, and drink blackberry brandy and glogg. We may even play golf. 

In memory of Gib, donations may be sent to the Woodstock Country Club to support a remembrance piece on the seventh tee. Please address donations to Woodstock Country Club, c/o Kurtz Memorial, 10310 Country Club Road, Woodstock, IL 60098. 

As our dad always taught us in song when we were young, “You should never laugh when a hearse goes by for you may be the next to die. …” We love you dearly and miss you, Dad! 

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