AMBOY – James J. “Jim” Braida, 84, of Amboy, died Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018, at Franklin Grove Living and Rehabilitation Center, surrounded by his loving family.
He was born Nov. 18, 1933, in Spring Valley, the son of James J. and Esther (Koenen) Braida. He married Marilyn Kulpa on Aug. 9, 1958, at St. Valentine Catholic Church in Peru. They recently celebrated their 60th anniversary. Jim graduated with the Class of 1951 from Hall Township High School. He then entered the Army, where he was stationed at the Panama Canal Zone as a radioman, and trained in jungle warfare. Afterward, he began his undergraduate studies at LaSalle-Peru-Oglesby Junior College, now Illinois Valley Community College, and completed his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb. In a chance campus encounter, he met Bob Reinboth, Amboy principal, who asked him if he would consider teaching at Amboy. He came to District 272 in 1960, and taught at Walton School for 3 years. He then taught business classes at Amboy High School for 5 years, coached football and track teams, and served as the first president of the Amboy Teachers Association. He became principal of Amboy High School in fall 1967, a year before the new high school was built, and remained as principal until his retirement in May 1993.
In a newspaper interview, he was quoted as saying “I have never met a bad kid.” In March 2018, the James Braida Auditorium at Amboy High School was dedicated in his honor. After retiring, he was the principal and a teacher from 1994 to 2000 at St. Mary School in Dixon. He was a member of the Illinois Principals Association, Illinois Education Association, and National Education Association. Jim and Marilyn also established the James Braida Teacher Scholarship to encourage students to become teachers.
Jim was a member of St. Patrick Catholic Church in Amboy, and recited the rosary daily. He was a lifetime member of the Knights of Columbus, a member of Amboy Lions Club, where he received the Melvin Jones Award, and was a past commander and the finance officer of Amboy American Legion Post 453. He traveled to Washington, D.C., on the Honor Flight in 2015. He also was a member of Shady Oaks Country Club and Depot Museum. He was an avid St. Louis Cardinals and Green Bay Packers fan, and enjoyed golfing, fishing, sports card collecting, flea markets, and spending time with his family. He also enjoyed traveling in the U.S. and Europe, especially Italy, which he and Marilyn visited on several occasions.
Survivors include his wife, Marilyn; three children, Perry Braida of Amboy, Timothy Braida of Normal and Bonnie Braida of Henderson, Nevada; daughter-in-law, Donna Braida of Princeton; four grandchildren, Shannon and Michael Braida and Schuyler and Hanna Bielema; three stepgrandchildren, Amanda (Matt) Pearson, Dustin (Kendra) Wolford, and Jodi (Royce) Fundell; and seven step-great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents and one son, James C. “Jay” Braida.
Visitation will be from 3 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Mihm-Jones Funeral Home in Amboy with the rosary recited at 7 p.m. The funeral will be Friday, beginning with a 10 a.m. prayer service at the funeral home, followed by a 10:30 a.m. Mass of Christian Burial at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Amboy, with the Rev. Timothy Draper, officiating. Burial with military honors by the Amboy American Legion will follow at St. Patrick Cemetery in Amboy.
A memorial has been established to the Amboy American Legion and St. Patrick Catholic Church.
Visit thejonesfh.com to send condolences.