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James J. Skozek, 74

James J. Skozek, 74, passed away unexpectedly on May 9, 2023, at Barron Hospital, Barron, Wis.

James was born Sept. 25, 1948, in Chicago to Stanley and Irene Skozek.

James attended and was a proud alumnus of St. Ignatius High School. He earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Loyola University and a master’s degree in school administration from Roosevelt University.

Jim married the love of his life, Deborah Sobczyk, on July 11, 1976. They spent 46 wonderful years together, supporting each other and raising a family. A sociable but quiet man, Jim remained calm and rational in any crisis or difficult situation. He possessed an inner strength and exacting sense of fairness.

Jim fostered a love of learning and strong work ethic in each of his three children, Rebecca, Jessica and Michael. He supported them in all their endeavors and acknowledged all their achievements. Most importantly, he respected their individuality and varying needs.

He worked for Community Consolidated School District 59 in Elk Grove Village for 36 years in a variety of positions, gym teacher, social studies teacher, and department chair and, finally, coordinator for talented and gifted learning, before retiring in 2006. For many years, Jim and his colleague, Helle Getz, chaperoned the eighth-graders’ annual trip to Washington, D.C. On his final tour in 2006, he laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, an honor he deeply cherished.

Jim owned and operated the Chetek Family Laundry in Chetek, Wis., for 16 years with the help of Gus Lesner, Norman Lemke, Cherri Grafflin, and the late Jon Erickson. Jim and Debbie also improved their Chetek vacation home 16 years ago with the help of Gary Mohr and a cadre of local craftsmen as well as friends and family.

Jim enjoyed a variety of pastimes, fishing, photography, birdwatching, golf, and travel. He and Debbie and their granddaughter, Jannelise, also enjoyed watching the horses race at Arlington Park Race Track every Friday during the summer for many years. Jim and Debbie belonged to gourmet clubs in Woodstock as well as the Dining Out Club in Chetek. Jim especially enjoyed cooking breakfasts for his family and friends.

Jim recorded and watched “Jeopardy” and used his “Jeopardy” question-a-day calendar religiously. His prized possession was his 1974 Saab Sonett, which won second place in the foreign stock division at the 2021 Liberty Fest car show.

He is survived by his dear wife, Debbie; his three loving children, Rebecca (Michael) Swenson, Jessica Escondo, and Michael (Holly) Skozek; beloved grandchildren, Alex, Evelyn, William, and Johnathan Swenson, and Jannelise Brzostowski, Zachary and Matthew Escondo; brother-in-law, Mark Sobczyk; sisters-in-law, Christine, Joyce and Kathleen Sobczyk; nieces, Maura and Olivia Sobczyk; aunt, Marie Willey; and sister, Jacqueline Navid; as well as many cousins and friends.

He is preceded in death by his parents, Stanley and Irene Skozek; his in-laws, Arthur and Charlotte Sobczyk; brother-in-law, David Sobczyk; and many aunts and uncles. 

Celebrations of life are being planned for both the Chetek and Northern Illinois areas. 

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Chetek Area Museum, Chetek Lakes Protection Association or The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. The Burnham-Ours Kolstad Family Funeral Home has been entrusted with arrangements.

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