James E. “Jim” Eder, age 82, of Chicago, distinguished for his overwhelming generosity, deep faith, and talent at storytelling, passed peacefully into eternal life on Monday, February 6, 2023, at Ascension St. Francis Hospital, in Evanston, surrounded by family and friends. Throughout his life, Jim interacted with the famous and the obscure, from delivering a eulogy at the funeral of Dorothy Day, to friendship with Mr. T during his tenure at Chicago Public Schools, to the myriad of soup kitchen guests he tirelessly served. The common thread among everyone he met was the dignity with which he treated them, his kind smile, and the twinkle in his eyes.
Jim was a graduate of Pius XI High School, in Milwaukee, and St. Meinrad College and School of Theology, in Indiana, despite his dyslexia. As a teenager, he read his way into the Catholic Church. He spent some of his years with the Benedictine monks at Marmion Abbey, but was told that his place was not amongst them, but in the world. For this sage advice, we owe the dear monks a debt of gratitude. Subsequently, he spent his adult life in Uptown, involved with the Catholic Worker. He taught in Chicago Public Schools for over 25 years, and concurrently shouldered the position of “temporary” director of the soup kitchen at St. Thomas of Canterbury Parish in Uptown for almost 50 years. Under his helm, the soup kitchen thrived, feeding thousands, in body and soul. The army of volunteers he attracted were nourished even more greatly than the droves of the poor, hungry, and homeless who straggled into the church basement. In Jim’s company, they witnessed the best a man can be.
His other interests included hiking, biking, camping, hunting, fishing, and traveling. He was a train buff, a gardener, bee keeper, and a great storyteller. A less beloved trait, among his nieces, was his fondness for limburger cheese, garlic summer sausage, and assorted unusual gastronomic concoctions. Jim enjoyed a good meal, German beer, spinning yarns and thoughtful conversation, most especially with his friends from the Catholic Worker and the parishes where he worshiped, St. Thomas of Canterbury, St. Ita, and St. Lambert.
Jim was born on December 21, 1940, in Milwaukee, WI, to Marie, née Saniter, and Wenceslaus “Jack” Eder. He is survived by siblings, Patricia Berger, William (Mary Ann) Eder, and Michael (Patti) Eder; nine nieces and three nephews; and many friends who deeply mourn his passing. Although Jim had many female friends and acquaintances, he never married. Instead, he became an adopted father, uncle, and grandfather to dear friends who became family, mentoring their children for decades.
His godson, Ricky Becker, in reflecting on Jim’s passing, shared: “Were we not all blessed to have walked the earth with such a man? To know him and love him and be loved by him? To be gathered together over the years with all the many, many who similarly knew and loved and were loved by him? Ah, a taste of heaven this side of the veil, all thanks to our dear friend. What will the world be without Jim Eder? Poorer at the very least, and bereft of a major tributary of joy.”
Visitation, Friday, February 10, 2023, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. and from 6 to 8 p.m., at St. Lambert Church of Ss. Peter & Lambert Catholic Parish, 8148 Karlov Av., Skokie, IL.
Additional Visitation, Saturday, February 11, from 9:30 a.m. until time of Mass of Christian Burial, 10 a.m., also at St. Lambert Church, Skokie.
Interment, Monday, February 13, at 10:30 a.m., Oak Hill Cemetery, 1540 E. Main St., Watertown, WI, 53094.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to St. Thomas of Canterbury Soup Kitchen, c/o Mary, Mother of God Catholic Parish, 1220 W. Catalpa Av., Chicago, IL, 60640.
Funeral info: 847.673.6111 or habenfuneral.com to sign guestbook and to leave a condolence message.
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