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James R. Locke

James R. Locke passed away Aug. 7, 2020. Jim had many passions in life, mainly service of God, service of his fellow people, and teaching.

After graduating from Woodstock High School, Jim attended Cornell College for two years before serving two years as a U.S. Army chaplain’s assistant. While serving, he was company and battalion soldier of the month and Honor Graduate from the basic Army Administration school at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Jim then completed his bachelor’s in education and master’s in learning disabilities at NIU as well as being state certified in gifted education. He taught at Central (Husmann) Elementary, and North (Bernotas) Junior High in Crystal Lake. He was honored to be recognized as Crystal Lake Kiwanis outstanding educator of the year in 1991. He also served as representative of District 47 at the Avery Coonley School for academically gifted students, writing behavioral objectives for the national test bank. He received many awards for his teaching, the greatest of which are the cards and letters from former students.

Jim was a member of the California Society (Sons of the American Revolution) and proud of the fact that the Locke family had 21 patriots in the Revolutionary War. He was a former member of the McHenry County Genealogical Society as well as a member of the McHenry County Retired Teachers Association.

A member of the First United Methodist Church, Woodstock, for over 60 years, he was baptized there in 1937, sang in the choir for over 50 years, served as Sunday school teacher and superintendent, eagerly volunteered with homebound communion, sponsored junior and senior high youth fellowship, served as institutional representative to Boy Scout Troop 159, the oldest chartered troop in the U.S., and so many more ways too numerous to mention. Jim’s service on the Memorial Committee and in bible studies were two of the things that grew his strong faith and circle of dear friends. 

While Jim was working on an additional 32 hours toward his doctorate in education, his passion for family prompted him to take early retirement from teaching and become the full-time caregiver for his mother. His hunger for knowledge included family heritage, genealogy, and sharing what he learned with the younger generations. 

Teaching was his passion, his life’s work, and his great joy. Although Jim never married, he had more than 2000 children. He believed that to teach was to touch a life forever. 

Jim was preceded in death by his father, Edward T, Locke (1948); mother, Edith H. Locke née Hollarbush (1988); sister, Janet M. Tornow née Locke (2019); and sister-in-law, Marjorie L. Locke nee Hironimus (2007). He is survived by brother Edward T (Marjorie) Locke II; nephews Edward T. (Kim) Locke III; great-niece, Stephanie (Zach) Sargent née Locke, and great-great-niece, Harper Marjorie Sargent; nephew, Robert Locke; great-nephew, Bobby; and great-niece Jenna; cousins, Kelly Butts, Michael, Jesse and Samuel. He is also survived by his nieces, Teri Tornow and Cynthia (Todd) Tayler née Tornow, whom Jim often said he wouldn’t have survived as long as he did without their unconditional love and constant support.

Jim has requested a memorial service be held at First United Methodist Church when we can gather to celebrate his life, and to honor him as he requested, with the hymns being played on the church’s organ he so loved. Details of the service will be announced at a future date.

For information, contact the Schneider Leucht Merwin Cooney Funeral Home at 815-338-1710, or visit

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