JR Black, age 78, died February 2, 2018, in Kankakee, IL at Riverside Hospital. He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Deanna, three children Lon (Bobbi) of Eagan, MN, Mike (Barbara) of Fall River, WI, Carrie (David Graf) of Momence, IL and four grandchildren, Jordan, Lauren, Elise, and Cade. His two sisters Rebecca Thoms of Clinton, IL and Linda Chockley of Lincoln, IL along with half-sister Ruth Tannehill of Troy, MO also survive. Preceded in death by his parents, William and Dorothy (Lambert) Black, brother Frank and half-sister Rose Marie Kelly.
Born July 18, 1939, in Clinton, IL, JR graduated from Clinton High School class of 1957 and Illinois State University class of 1961. Attending ISU on a football and state teacher’s scholarship, he competed in football and track becoming captain, all-conference, athletic hall member, and IIAC record-holder. He began his teaching and coaching career at Herscher High School before moving to Kankakee High School, Eastridge High School and finally, to Westview High School as Athletic Director and Head Football Coach. He was proud to have the Westview football field named in his honor. During his educational career, JR went on to receive his Masters Degree and Advance Certificate from the University of Illinois. He was named to the Kankakee District 111 Hall of Fame, Outstanding Educator and three-time District Athletic Director of the year. In 1979, JR left education for a business career and served on the Downtown Business Association and on the Kankakee Chamber of Commerce board. Before retiring in 2002, he returned to education as an administrator at the Kankakee Area Career Center.
JR was a lifelong active conservationist and a charter member of the Northern Illinois Anglers serving many years as President and Executive Director. He was dedicated to protecting, restoring and enhancing the Kankakee River and founded many key events including the Fishing Derby and the adopt-a-river program. He served as chair, founder and advisor of various Kankakee commissions, alliances, and boards including the Kankakee River Valley Whitetails while holding memberships in numerous organization dedicated to preserving and benefiting the environment. JR was a statewide delegate in the Conservation Congress assemblies, Governor Edgar’s appointment to the Land Use and Water Resource Task Force and inducted into the Illinois Outdoor Hall of Fame in 2004. JR received many other awards and designations honoring his lifelong passion, respect, and commitment to the natural resources he so enjoyed.
Visitation will be Friday, February 9 from 4-8pm at the Schreffler Funeral Home of Kankakee. Funeral services will be Saturday, February 10 at 10 am with visitation 1 hour prior at the Asbury United Methodist Church of Kankakee with the Reverend Scott Henley officiating. Graveside burial services will be 2:30 pm the Texas Township Cemetery in Clinton, IL.
Memorials to Asbury United Methodist Chuch and the American Cancer Society.