PRINCETON — James Drummer Prendergast, 96, formerly of Princeton and Arlington, died Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017, in Ranchos Palos Verdes, Calif., where he had moved recently.
Jim was born May 9, 1921, to William Henry and Margaret Drummer Prendergast of LaMoille. He married Laura Jane Novotny on Aug. 21, 1948, at St. Patrick’s Church in Arlington.
A lifelong resident of Bureau County, Jim grew up on a farm in Berlin Township and attended school in LaMoille prior to winning a county scholarship to the University of Illinois. During World War II, he served as an officer in the U.S. Army 126th Ordnance Corps, landing on Utah Beach on D-8 of the Normandy invasion and fighting in the Battle of the Bulge. After three years active duty (1943-46), he continued in the Army Reserve, retiring in 1981 with the rank of major.
He graduated from the U of I in 1949 with a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Engineering, having been named to the Tau Beta Pi Engineering honor society. He worked for Harry Ferguson Farm Equipment Co., Detroit, and International Harvester, Quincy and Chicago, before returning to farm in Arlington for 27 years. He also worked at Knauf Implement Co. in Ladd, and after his retirement from farming in 1982, taught classes in agricultural mechanics at Illinois Valley Community College and worked at Allen Lumber in Princeton. In his “spare” time, he did countless odd jobs, took up upholstery and model railroading, and rehabbed 15 single family houses.
In 2007, he received the Diocese of Peoria’s Père Marquette Award, recognizing his tireless service to his churches, St. Patrick’s in Arlington (where he was the first child baptized) and St. Louis in Princeton. He was also an active member of the Knights of Columbus and the American Legion.
Jim is survived by his wife of 69 years, Laura Jane, of Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.; two daughters and their husbands, Dr. Susan P. Schoelwer and William Schoelwer of Washington, D.C., and Sheila A. Bloodgood and David Bloodgood of Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.; five grandchildren, Margaret Susan, William James and Jennifer Laura Schoelwer, and Ryan James and Patrick Thomas Bloodgood; and two great-grandchildren, Vivian Jane and William Joseph Schoelwer.
He was preceded in death by his parents and sister, Jane Mosbacher.
Visitation will be from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 20, at the Norberg Memorial Home in Princeton, with a rosary recited at 6:30 p.m. A Mass will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 21, at St. Louis Catholic Church in Princeton with Father Daniel Gifford officiating. Inurnment will follow at Calvary Cemetery in Arlington with Father Pat Fixsen officiating.
Memorials may be made to St. Louis Catholic Church in Princeton, St. Patrick Catholic Church in Arlington or Catholic Relief Services.
Online condolences may be left at www.norbergfh.com.