Lt. Col. James (Jim) Joseph Gende
MOLINE-Lt. Col. James (Jim) Joseph Gende, USMC Ret. died December 13, 2019 in Moline.
Mass of Christian Burial at St. Mary's, Moline at 10am on December 17, 2019. Burial at National Cemetery, Rock Island with military honors. Visitation Monday from 4pm-7pm at Rafferty Funeral Home, 2111 First Street A, Moline.
Jim was born to Eva (Bawiec) Gende and Joseph Francis Gende in Chicago, IL, the first of five children, followed by Joseph (Irene), Robert, Evelyn (Tom) Spero, and Ronald Gende.
He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1951, was pulled into Officer Training School and commissioned at 18 as First Lieutenant. He served ably and honorably as an officer in the Korean War, and ultimately entered the USMC Reserves, serving for a time as Commanding Officer of the local USMC Reserve Company.
After returning from service, he attended the University of Illinois. Following his undergraduate degree, he attended the University of Illinois School of Law, earning his Juris Doctor in 1962. While studying at U of I, he met Susan B. Rypstat in 1956 and married her in 1962. They started their family a year later (Sarah, 56), and went on to have three more (James, 52, Gretchen, 49 and Amy, 46).
Jim practiced law for 35 years and started his own firm, helped create Hungry Hobo (started with Ray Pearson, brother Joe Gende and brother-in-law Tom Spero), and was one of the start-up owners of SnowStar, the Quad Cities only ski area.
He was deeply committed to helping others in his community, serving on many boards, including: the local Epilepsy Foundation, Rock Island County Council of Addictions, Legal Aid in the Quad Cities, Marriage and Family Counseling, and The Boys and Girls Clubs of Mississippi Valley, as well as serving as the attorney for St. Anthony's Hospital and Summit Ridge and serving as a member of the American Legion and the Knights of Columbus.
Jim's commitment to lifting others and principled service also was reflected in his lifelong membership in the Democratic Party and his candidacy for U.S. Congress in 1973. He was also far ahead of his time in supporting his wife Sue, also a lifelong Democrat committed to the well-being of others, in her career as a child-advocate, lawyer and ultimately as a Rock Island County Circuit Court Judge.
In addition to being a unwavering fan of the Chicago Bears and the Fighting Illini, Jim loved the Mississippi River and spent many happy hours boating its muddy waters, from sailing as a young man in East Moline to many rips on The Sunshine Lady. Later, he and Sue lived and cruised on their second boat, De Novo, plying the Eastern Seaboard and the Bahamian Islands in the winters for two decades, while traveling all over the world with family and friends when dockside. His boat was always clean and his maps in order; he was an able captain and a mariner at heart.
Family, work, service and learning meant everything to Jim. He was a generous, modest and devoted son, brother, husband, father, grandfather and uncle.
He is survived by his life partner and wife of 57 years, the Honorable Susan B. Gende, his children and grandchildren: Dr. Sarah Gende (Bob Castle, Coal Valley, IL); James Gende, JD, (Delafield WI and his children Mason, Nolan and Giana); Gretchen Gende, JD (Steve Willey, Bainbridge Island WA and their children Lucien, Sian and Caden); Dr. Amy (Gende) Piperato (John Piperato, Thiells NY and their children John Jr., Alexa and Vincent).
Mr. Moon will always shine on you, Dad. Your eyes have seen the glory, and you were and will remain without compare, a model of integrity, modesty, honor and steadfastness.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in Jim's honor to: RiverBend Food Bank or Boys and Girls Clubs of the Mississippi Valley.