James Gibson Esarey, 80, of White Hall, died Saturday, March 30, 2013, at his residence.
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James was born March 13, 1933, in Mount Carmel. He is the son of Eugene Rhinehart Esarey and Carrie Gibson Esarey. James married Emily Louise Beggs on June 26, 1955, in Oak Park.
James graduated from Mount Carmel High School in 1951, and attended the University of Illinois in Champaign from 1951 to 1955, earning his bachelor of science in agricultural education. During that time, he served one year as president of Wesmen, a Methodist men's organization. He proudly served his country in the U.S. Navy from 1955 to 1957, aboard the USS Onslow, a seaplane tender stationed in Hong Kong Harbor. He was employed by Doane Agriculture from 1957-59.
In 1959, James and Emily settled in Greene County, south of White Hall, where he and Emily began managing Gregory Farm. He managed grain and livestock production while raising a family. Jim was involved with several community organizations over the next several years, to include Farm Bureau, White Hall Lions, White Hall United Methodist Church, Ducks Unlimited and the National Rifle Association. Jim was also an active businessman of the area. He owned and operated Esarey Café, Esarey Farms, Hilltop Sheltered Care Home, Greene County Sanitation and Apple Creek Prairie Antiques.
Most recently, many people will remember Jim for his enthusiastic attendance at many auctions around the area. He was considered a local authority on White Hall pottery and enjoyed collecting many other types of antiques. He had a special interest in Indian artifacts, primitives and paperweights. As University of Illinois alumni, Jim and Emily are both huge supporters of Illini activities. Hail to the Chief!
Although Jim enjoyed farming, antiques, Illini activities and family history, he enjoyed people the most. He encouraged those around him to continually reach for new heights in their personal lives. It was his greatest joy to watch someone, whom he had nurtured, to achieve their goals.
Jim enjoyed a good debate as well. No matter whether it was over eggs (Jim-style, of course!) at the North End Café or at the Carrollton Farmers Elevator (in White Hall). One could always count on his friendly smile to brighten any venue.
Jim was also a great supporter of his family and their activities. He was a familiar face at his grandchildren's music and theater performances, football games and graduations. He was very proud to have been able to attend Bethany's theater activities at Western Illinois University-Macomb last fall, Zach's state football game (U of I-Champaign) and high school graduation last year (Chatham), Greg's college graduation from Embry-Riddle in Arizona this past December, to give congratulations to Joshua on his promotion at Reynolds Inc. (Jacksonville) and to Christopher for his graduation from helicopter flight school (Fort Rucker, Ala.) this February. Jim and Emily are also quite interested in family history on both sides of their family trees; passing on the legacies of family history was of great importance to him.
James was preceded in death by his parents.
He is survived by his wife, Emily Beggs Esarey of White Hall; four children, Jonathon Charles Esarey of Chicago, Le ""Leonora"" Esarey (partner, Butch Perry) of Riverton, Justus Gibson Esarey (Toni) of Atlanta, Ga., and Laura Jane (Esarey) Dukett (Drew) of rural Roodhouse. Jim and Emily have five grandchildren, Bethany Dukett, Joshua Dukett, Christopher Dukett (Sonya), Greg Finn and Zach Finn; three great-grandchildren, Ashely Wells, Christian Wells and Haley Westermayer; and one great-great-grandchild, Isabella Marie Wells. He is also survived by three brothers, Kermit Esarey (Lee) of Arlington, Texas, Dwight Esarey of Fairfield and J. Clark Esarey (Carol) of Springfield. Several nieces, nephews and cousins will miss him as well.
Visitation will take place at Christ United Methodist Church in White Hall from 4-8 p.m. Friday. A celebration of his life will take place Saturday at 2 p.m. at Christ United Methodist Church in White Hall. Pastors Sara and Robin Lyons will officiate. Interment will take place at the new addition of White Hall Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to the White Hall Cemetery or the James G. Esarey Education Fund at Farmers State Bank in White Hall. Airsman-Hires Funeral Home in White Hall is in charge of arrangements. Condolences may be left at www.airsman-hires.com.
Published in Jacksonville Journal-Courier on Apr. 3, 2013