James Perry Hecht, 83, Woodstock, died peacefully Monday, Feb. 12, 2018, in Woodstock, surrounded by his loving family, books, pictures, paintings and music. He passed on Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, his hero.
A third-generation Woodstock resident, the town he so loved, Jim was an avid jazz musician and aficionado, fly fisherman, traveler, art and book collector, and intellectual. A 1953 Woodstock High School graduate, he graduated cum laude with Phi Beta Kappa distinction in 1957 from Carleton College in Northfield, Minn. In June 1960, he earned his LL.B. from Yale Law School and was admitted to the Illinois Bar upon which he practiced as attorney at law at his own firm for 53 years on the Woodstock Square. As an attorney, he received the preeminent AV rating from his peers for the highest level of legal knowledge, ethical standards and professional excellence.
Jim’s undergraduate internship at the United Nations in 1956 paved the way for his lifelong adherence to civic duty and interest. Just some of the community projects he helped bring to prosperity through leadership and membership include the Woodstock Opera House, the Bull Valley Association and Garden Clubs, Illinois Migrant Council, Head Start of Woodstock, the McHenry County Conservation District and Audubon Society, Woodstock School District 200, McHenry County College and the Unitarian Universalist Church of McHenry County.
He retired from law in 2013 and spent his time with family and friends, fishing in his backyard pond in Woodstock, reading literature, listening to jazz standards and classical music, and soaking in the Midwest landscape and artistry.
Jim was a cherished, loving and admired father to his six children. They and their families are forever marked by his essence and star. He was a treasured grandfather with eight adoring grandchildren. He also leaves with love his brother and sister-in-law, his life partner and her family, several nieces and nephews, cousins, and a host of lifelong friends.
Jim’s magnificent journey will be celebrated with a jazz concert at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24, at Hearthstone Communities, 840 N. Seminary Ave., Woodstock, to commemorate and acknowledge his vision and commitment as a founder of Jazz on the Square and as a jazz enthusiast and tenor sax player who brought a jazz scene to Woodstock.
A service will be held at 4 p.m. Feb. 24 at the Blue Lotus Temple, 221 Dean St., Woodstock, and will be the serene and triumphant setting of his life through music, poetry and laudation.
Memorials can be made to the McHenry County Conservation Foundation, P.O. Box 1108, Woodstock, IL 60098. The MCCD is an organization Jim helped bring to a bright future to conserve, nourish and behold McHenry County’s natural heritage.
Condolences can be sent to the Family of James P. Hecht, c/o Tree of Life UU Congregation, 5603 Bull Valley Road, McHenry, IL 60050.
Arrangements were made by Schneider, Leucht, Merwin & Cooney Funeral Home.