BLOOMINGTON — Arthur David Gambach, 99 years and eight months, of Quincy and formerly of Bloomington, entered into eternal life at 5:30 a.m. April 4, 2017, from the Illinois Veterans Home, Quincy, amongst his new friends.
Arthur was born to Elsie Hannah Groves and David Valentine Gambach on Aug. 2, 1917. Art worked as a teenage soda “jerk” at the pharmacy in Lohrville, Iowa. He spent summers in Minnesota with relatives, and as a cowboy in the young state of Montana. After graduating from Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa, he taught at high schools and coached basketball in Iowa.
Studying German in college, he used this skill in the U.S. Navy, serving six years training in Pensacola, Fla., and also in U.S. naval intelligence in Germany and England. Promoted to lieutenant commander, he had story after story to tell of his war experiences prior to and after Pearl Harbor.
Moving to Illinois to attend University of Illinois Law School, he obtained a juris doctor degree in 1950. It was at the library where Art met his future wife, Iola Mae Onstott, who also served during World War II, in the Navy, as a WAVE. After marrying on Valentine’s Day in 1948, they lived in Champaign, Chenoa, Bloomington, Hopedale, Sherman, and Petersburg for almost 70 years before settling in Quincy for their last year of life together.
Arthur’s 99th birthday was celebrated at an outdoor cookout in his honor, with his wife, Iola; all eight of his children; and five of his eight grandchildren present, on the grounds of the Illinois Veterans 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 Arthur’s birthday in 1980.
Art and Iola raised their eight children in McLean County and encouraged them all to obtain university degrees. Art worked with financial investments at Union Insurance Group and as a tax attorney in private practice for farmers. Arthur’s reputation as an attorney of integrity and honesty was impeccable. He was happiest being a mentor, coach, and extraordinary father and "Gramps."
Art is survived by his eight children, Linda (Jerry) Frana, Grand Detour; Nancy (Jim) Sanford, Maryville, Tenn.; Donna Gambach, David Gambach, and James (Janice) Gambach, all of Springfield; Marie Gambach (Joe Hooker), Champaign; Karen Gambach, Portland, Ore.; and Ellen (Thomas) Robinson, Sherman; eight grandchildren, Jeremiah (Siwen) Frana, Springfield; Katie Gambach, Riverside; Jennie Gambach (David Sackris), Hamilton, N.J.; Michael Gambach, Springfield; Jack Sanford, Maryville, Tenn.; Nick Hooker, Thorton, Colo.; and Adriana Gambach and Rachel Hooker, both of Springfield. He is also survived by one sister, Dorothy Mae Somers, Redlands, Calif.; three sisters-in-law, Phyllis Bruce, LeRoy; Geneva Gambach, Mount Pleasant, Iowa; and Mary (Peg) Onstott, 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.
Art never met a stranger and was friendly to all. A student of life, he studied the biographies of presidents, war and spy novels, and books on tape. 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 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, Bloomington.
Cognizant to the end, Art knew his children and grandchildren by name and enjoyed their visits.
The family wishes to thank the staff of Countryside Estates, Petersburg, and Home Instead Senior Care, Springfield, and the Illinois Veterans Home, 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 10 a.m. April 22, Iola’s birthday, at Funks Grove Church, 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, P.O. Box 55911, Lexington, KY 40555.
The family of Arthur D. Gambach is being served by Kirlin-Egan & Butler Funeral Home, 900 S. Sixth St., Springfield.
Please visit butlerfuneralhomes.com to offer your condolences.