QUINCY — Arthur David Gambach, 99 years and 9 months, of Quincy entered into eternal life at 5:30 a.m. on April 4, 2017, from the Illinois Veteran’s Home at Quincy, amongst his new friends.
Arthur was born to Elsie Hannah Groves and David Valentine Gambach on Aug. 2, 1917, in Lohrville, Iowa.
During his teenage years, Arthur was a “soda jerk” in the local drugstore in his hometown of Lohrville. He co-owned an airplane as a young man and later, while in the Navy during WWII, went through flight training at the naval base in Pensacola, Fla.
Arthur, at the age of 15, traveled to the young state of Montana to spend the summer as a cowboy with family members who were there as homesteaders, a summer he fondly remembered.
He had a very interesting life and loved to tell us stories from his boyhood as we were growing up.
Arthur graduated from Buena Vista College in Storm Lake, Iowa, and in addition, attended University of Iowa and University of Colorado. After graduation, Arthur taught science and coached basketball in high schools in Iowa, before joining the Navy in 1941.
While at the naval base in Pensacola, Fla., Lt. Commander Arthur Gambach was assigned to naval intelligence. He was stationed in Germany and England during WWII. His knowledge and study of German in college was indispensable in Arthur’s service overseas.
Arthur’s six years in the Navy gave him experiences he wanted to share. He had story after story to tell of those experiences prior to and after Pearl Harbor.
Moving to Illinois to attend the University of Illinois Law School, he obtained his Juris Doctor degree in 1950. It was at the U of I library where Arthur met his future wife, Iola Mae Onstott, who also served during WWII in the Navy, as a wave.
After marrying on Valentine’s Day in 1948, they lived in Champaign, LeRoy, Chenoa, Bloomington, Hopedale, Sherman, and Petersburg for almost 70 years before settling into the Illinois Veteran’s Home at Quincy for their last year together.
Arthur's 99th birthday was celebrated at an outdoor cookout in his honor, while his wife, Iola, all eight of his children, and five of his eight grandchildren were present on the grounds of the Illinois Veteran’s Home at Quincy.
Arthur recalled in a memory book he had written, that his happiest and best birthday gift was the birth of his first grandchild on his birthday in 1980.
Art and Iola raised their children in Chenoa in McLean County and encouraged and supported them in obtaining university degrees.
Arthur began his law career in general practice in Chenoa and McLean County. Later, in Bloomington, he joined Union Insurance Group, working with financial investments. Arthur’s reputation as an attorney of integrity and honesty was impeccable. His example was not lost on his children.
Arthur was always active in and enjoyed activities with his children, church, sports, school musicals, Boy and Girl Scouts, and family camping and travel. Arthur never met a stranger and was friendly to all.
Arthur loved everything from the daily newspaper, to reading biographies, spy novels, sports stories, science discoveries, stories about the Mars Rover, and music of all kinds. He was a lifelong Iowa Hawkeyes and St. Louis Cardinals fan.
Both Arthur and Iola were members of Wesley United Methodist Church in Bloomington.
Cognizant to the end, Arthur knew his children and grandchildren by name and enjoyed their visits. Arthur was happiest being a mentor, coach, and an extraordinary father and grandfather.
Art is survived by his eight children: Linda (Jerry) Frana of Grand Detour, Nancy (Jim) Sanford of Maryville, Tenn., Donna Gambach, David Gambach, and James (Janice) Gambach, all of Springfield, Marie Gambach (Joe Hooker) of Champaign, Karen Gambach of Portland, Ore., and Ellen (Thomas) Robinson of Sherman; eight grandchildren, Jeremiah (Siwen) Frana of Springfield, Katie Gambach of Riverside, Jennie Gambach (David Sackris) Hamilton of N.J., Michael Gambach of Springfield, Jack Sanford of Maryville, Tenn., Nick Hooker of Thorton, Colo., and Adriana Gambach and Rachel Hooker, both of Springfield. He is also survived by one sister, Dorothy Mae Somers of Redlands, Calif.; three sisters-in-law, Phyllis Bruce of LeRoy, Geneva Gambach of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, and Mary (Peg) Onstott of Pomona, Calif.; and several nieces, nephews, and cousins.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Iola; brother, Ralph Gambach; and sister, Mary Waterbury, both of Iowa.
The family wishes to thank the staff of Countryside Estates, Petersburg and Home Instead Senior Care, Springfield, and the Illinois Veteran’s Home at Quincy for helping Art stay as independent as possible in his last years.
Cremation will be accorded by Butler Cremation Tribute Center.
A Celebration of Life and burial for Arthur and Iola Gambach will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Iola’s birthday, at Funk’s Grove Church in McLean.
Memorial contributions may be made to: The Nature Conservancy, Attn: Treasury, 4245 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 100, Arlington, VA 22203 or Christian Appalachian Project, Attn: Honors and Memorials, PO Box 55911, Lexington, KY 40555.
The family of Arthur D. Gambach is being served by Kirlin-Egan & Butler Funeral Home, 900 S. 6th Street, Springfield.