James Robert Hooker, of Goreville, formerly of Dwight, passed away Saturday (March 17, 2018) at his home.
Known as Papa: the man, the myth, the legend; Jimmy; Jim Bob; Jim, my daddy; and as a dear uncle and friend. Jim gave cancer hell for two years.
It didn’t win.
Jim was born May 17, 1952, in St. Elmo, to Wyman and Monda White Hooker as the youngest of three children.
He moved to Dwight at age 5 and graduated from Dwight Township High School in 1970. He attended Joliet Junior College and then Southern Illinois University, graduating in 1976 with a bachelor of arts degree in sociology.
He’s survived by his love, his best friend and wife, Therese Trainor; his daughter, Sara Peters; and three beloved grandchildren, Emerson, Coe and Caleb Peters; his siblings, Bill Hooker and Rita (Bill) Schultz; nephews, Billy (Heidi) and Brian Hooker; nieces, Jennifer Schultz and Jill (Jeff) Lee; and great-nephews, Matt Hooker, BJ Hooker, and Bryce and Baylen Lee.
He is also survived by his mother-in-law, Margaret Trainor; brothers- and sisters-in-law, Steve (Sue Panno) Trainor, Ann Ruskin, Pat (Vicki) Trainor, Joan (Tom) Bernhardt, Mary (Jack) Timmerman, Molly (George) Maris; and many nieces, nephews and great-nieces and -nephews.
And, of course, his beloved puppy, Theo, survives, a Newfoundland poodle mix — a gentle giant who brought him so many smiles in his last year.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his first wife, Martha Anderson Hooker; stepfather, Willard Mattix; father-in-law, Robert Trainor; sisters-in-law, Barbara Kramer and Lenore Trainor; and brother-in-law, Bob Ruskin.
Jim worked on construction of the LaSalle and Braidwood nuclear plants. He worked at Rub Chevy Buick Olds in Dwight for more than 20 years.
Jim loved to travel. He loved a good meal and a martini on the rocks. He read the newspaper cover to cover daily. He loved music and sports of all kinds. He was a lifelong and diehard Chicago Cubs fan and proud supporter of his Southern Illinois University Salukis.
Jim was a private person, but never met a stranger. He loved to research, and he meticulously planned and oversaw the construction of two houses, one most recently on Lake Egypt in Goreville. His family will continue to make memories in his honor at the Hooker Homestead, as he named it, for many years to come.
His memorial service will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at Dwight United Methodist Church, 701 S. Columbia St., Dwight, followed by a celebration of life open house from noon to 4 p.m. at Station 343, 140 E. Main St., downtown Dwight.
The best way to honor Jim is to take an intentional moment to build up another human being. Especially during his most difficult days, he believed you take what life gives you, and you “make the best of it.”
Cancer didn’t win.
If you’d like to donate in his honor, Jim’s favorite charities are Smile Train, an international organization that repairs cleft lip and palates for children in developing countries; or Mercy Home For Boys and Girls, an organization that helps children who have been abused or neglected.