James Bernard ""Jim"" Fronek

Jim Fronek, at the age of 87, passed away peacefully with family by his side on Tuesday, October 6, 2020 at The Timbers of Shorewood. He was a much loved father, husband, brother, brother-in-law, uncle, and friend. Jim was a good, kind and generous man.

Jim was born April 6, 1933 in Joliet, Illinois, the son of the late Bennie and Violet M. (Gabriel) Fronek. He married his dear wife, Jackie (Jacquelyn M. Eich) on November 22, 1958 at the Cathedral of St. Raymond in Joliet. Jim met Jackie through her late sister Kay Wilhelmi (Vincent) and graduated from Joliet Township High School, Class of 1951. Jackie preceded him in death on July 9, 2012 after 54 years of marriage. Also preceding him in death are his brother, Bennie, Jr. in infancy, his sister, Mary Lou Plut (the late Bob) and his sister, Norma Fronek (special beloved friend Susan Arellano).

Jim will be deeply missed by his two daughters, Jamie (Bill) Wetzel and Jennifer (David) Bayer, his brother and sister-in-law Jerry and Renee Fronek, sisters-in-law Carmen (late Richard) Voitik, Sue (late Jim) Ciarlette, and Paula (George) Skiotes, and brother-in-law Ray (Pam) Eich and numerous and much loved nieces and nephews.

Jim worked at Caterpillar’s Joliet plant for 36 years retiring in 1987.  During those years, Jim served his country from 1953 to 1955 as part of the 523rd Pipeline Company (Engineers) in Pusan, Korea. He attended their reunions from 2010 to 2017 and enjoyed getting together with the other men (and their wives) who also served.  These were men who valued hard work, good jokes, consideration of others, big earth moving equipment and their country – they served with honor.

Jim kept in contact with his childhood and Caterpillar friends including Bob Lovati, Freddie Talarico and the late Richard Rizzo.  He enjoyed their company and shared good laughs and reminisces of simpler times. Jim and Jackie were also members of the Caterpillar Retirees Club and cherished the camaraderie and friendships.  When Jim retired, he helped out in the parts department at Rick’s RV Center where Jim and Jackie would drop off homemade nut clusters and later baked goods from Jim, creations he made after Jackie passed away.

Jim and Jackie and their daughters spent many summers in northern Minnesota (Terry and Weese Drauden and their Kitchi Landing Resort) enjoying the fishing and cabin life with Jackie’s parents. When Jim retired from Caterpillar, the resort cabin was traded in for motorhomes.  Jim and Jackie enjoyed many weeks-long trips up north, the northeast and even Florida.  Jim had many interests (and Jamie and Jennifer can attest to that) and dabbled in importing flower bulbs from Holland, growing grapes to make wine and jelly, growing apple trees (he loved trees including pine trees and was a supporter of the Arbor Day Foundation), and gardening (of which Jackie canned many vegetables).  He enjoyed fishing with his family and Minnesota friends.  He was a skilled woodworker, a shared passion with his brother Jerry.  Jim’s woodworking really took off when he built a workshop after retirement.  Jim and Jackie were members of the Christmas at Our House crafting group and made many, many crafts, furniture and special order items.  Jim’s skills in gardening and woodworking (including painting) were inherited from his mom and dad, Bennie and Violet. Jim and Jackie passed along to Jamie and Jennifer some of the same passions and interests.

Jamie and Jennifer would like to extend their deep appreciation, gratitude and thanks to many people who cared for Jim over the years and more recently too -- with kindness, compassion and dedication – many blessings to all of you: his sister-in-law, Carmen Voitik – she kept a careful eye over Jim after Jackie passed away and as an aunt, is a 2nd mother to Jamie and Jennifer; his doctors – Dr. Asavari Javeri, Dr. Chris Kolyvas, Dr. Lori Klemm and Dr. Karl Szafranski; his nurse Stephanie and his physical therapist Julie from Newsome Home Health Care; the staff from Link Home Care, especially Tet and Linda; the staff from Peace Hospice – Kathy, John and Julie and the team at The Timbers of Shorewood – Kevin, Sheila, Lisa, Sharon, Amy, Vanessa, all the nursing aides and others at Timbers whom we may not have mentioned.  All his caregivers treated him like family and many, many thanks for that.

Visitation for James B. Fronek will be held on Monday, October 12, 2020 from 3:00 – 7:00 p.m. at the Fred C. Dames Funeral Home, 3200 Black Rd. (at Essington Rd.) Joliet.  In accordance with Illinois guidelines, there will be a 50 person maximum capacity at one time.  Face masks are required and social distancing will be observed.  Funeral Services will be Tuesday, October 13, 2020 at 10:15 a.m. from the funeral home chapel to St. Ambrose Catholic Church for a Mass of Christian Burial at 11:00 a.m. with a maximum capacity of 50 guests.  Interment will follow at Woodlawn Memorial Park. In lieu of flowers, memorials in his name to veterans’ organizations, hospices, or tree-based organizations (plant a tree in Jim’s name) of the donor’s choice, would be appreciated. For more information, please call (815) 741-5500 or visit his Memorial Tribute at www.fredcdames.com where you can leave a condolence or share a special memory.