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PEKIN ~ James Edward Brown, 88, of Pekin, passed away at 9:18 p.m. Wednesday, February 28, 2018 at OSF Richard L. Owens Hospice Home in Peoria. 

Born December 11, 1929 in Mishawaka, Indiana to Justin J. and Ruby Mae (Hanover) Brown, he married Chieko Todaka on December 21, 1953 in Fukuoka, Japan.  She survives. 

Also surviving are two sons, Steven Brown and James “Jimmy” (Theresa) Brown, both of Pekin; one daughter, Nikki (Matthew) Cambron of Las Vegas, Nevada; eight grandchildren, Nick (Bethany) Brown Goodin, Dakota Brown, Justin (Emily Foust) Cambron, Nate (Brad Bock) Cambron, Jarod (Jody) Brown, Nick Scanlon, Christina (Bob) Harms and James Brown, Jr.; nine great-grandchildren; two brothers, Robert Brown of Mulberry, Florida and Harold “Pete” (Patsy) Brown of North Palm Beach, Florida; and two sisters, Mary Jo Boyer of South Pekin and Sharon Kay Church of Pekin. 

He was preceded in death by his parents and two sisters, Ila Mae Smith and Wanda Irene Peak. 

A United States Army veteran of the Korean War, he attained the rank of Corporal.  He had served in the 8183 Regiment and Artillery Unit APO#3. 

Jim had worked at American Distilling Company in Pekin for 31 years and later worked out of Laborers’ Local #231 in Pekin, working for R. A. Cullinan for 16 years.  He last served as Sergeant of Arms for the Laborers’ Local #231 Retirees Council. 

He was a member of First United Methodist Church in Pekin. 

Sixty five years ago, Jim met Chieko Todaka in Japan during the Korean War.  After knowing each other for only four months, they fell madly in love.  Jim promised her that if she came back to the United States with him, he would take care of her for the rest of her life.  He returned home and worked, telling her that he didn’t want her to have to work and sent her money when he could.  He wrote to Chieko every day and because she couldn’t speak English well, her next door neighbor would interpret the letters.  She saved every single letter.  Eight months later, he returned to Japan on a freighter that took 28 days to reach its destination.  They were married four days later and have shared 64 wonderful years together. 

As he lay in his hospital bed, she thanked him.  She thanked him for being a man of his word, for always taking care of her exactly as he promised, for making her dreams come true, and for 64 years of unconditional love.  The only thing she wished is that he took her with him, because in her words “they go everywhere together” and she didn’t want him to go on this journey alone.  

Jim showed his love in many ways.  His grandchildren will never forget all of the trips to the park.  They’ll remember how he’d drive near or far, rain or shine to all of their games and activities.  They are thankful that he was such a gentle soul and a person they could look up to.  Jim would give up his living room for the grandchildren to “camp out” and even let them commandeer the tv set to play whatever games or shows they were into at the time. 

He will be remembered by his family as having a big, open heart, always being quick to laugh before placing judgement, for being at every game, birthday or anything important to them, and showing his family that they could always depend on him. 

Jim enjoyed photography, Civil War history, and Model T cars.  He was a die-hard Chicago Cubs fan, and a fan of the Chicago Bears and Notre Dame. 

The family will host a celebration of life service at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 10, 2018 at First United Methodist Church in Pekin.  Family and friends are invited to share a meal with the family following the service.  Cremation has been accorded by Preston-Hanley Funeral Homes & Crematory in Pekin. 

Memorial contributions may be made to the American Diabetes Association, 2501 Chatham Road, Suite 210, Springfield, IL 62704. 

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