|James Leo Weber, a resident of Rio, Illinois, a lifetime farm owner and a former railroad conductor, nicknamed "Smilin' Jim" by his railroad friends, died late Wednesday, April 11th, while surrounded by his family. He was 82. His death was preceded by a stroke in the early morning hours.
Born in Wataga, to Karl and Grace Weber, Jim, his sister Mary Ann, and brother Joseph were the 3rd generation to a German-Immigrant line. He established his own farm outside of Rio while working as a switchman, brakeman, and conductor from 1956 to 1993 for the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy/Burlington Northern Railroads. He was a member of the Knox County Farm Bureau, United Transportation Union, and BNSF Veteran's Association.
Growing out of the Great Depression, he helped his father farm by raising crops and livestock. He attended the Robbins School, outside of Wataga, and later graduated St. Bede Academy in Peru, IL, where he played football. Jim was a lifetime member of the Knights of Columbus, while attending St. Aloysius Church of Wataga in his younger years before becoming a charter member of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church of Galesburg. He went on to attend Knox College and became a member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity.
While at Knox, he met and married Margaret Anne Wetmore on October 15, 1949 at St. Peter's Catholic Church in Skokie, IL. While raising seven children, building a farm business, and working the railroad, he enjoyed country and folk music, often playing Johnny Cash or The Irish Rovers. His favorite songs were Red River Valley, and You are My Sunshine. In his younger years, he was a member of the Civil Air Patrol and later became a licensed pilot and member of the Experimental Aircraft Association.
Jim is survived by his wife, Margaret, of 62 years and seven children. Laura (Frederick) Isele - East Moline, IL , David (Nancy) - Morrison, IL, Theresa (Lyle) Miller - Woodbury, MN, Mary Elizabeth, also of Woodbury, MN, Kathryn (James) - Carman, IL, Thomas - Lansing, MI, and Jim (Kimberly) - Keller, TX. Jim's legacy also includes 13 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
Rosary will be prayed at 8:30 am Saturday April 14, 2012, followed by Visitation from 9:00 am to 10:30 am at Watson Funeral Home followed by Funeral/Mass at 11:00 am, Immaculate Heart of Mary Church. Burial will follow at St. Joseph Cemetery.