Great Member Lost.

J.R. Black was a lifetime member and expert in conversation who passed away friday. He will be greatly missed by all, especially those who have an interest in conservation, the outdoors, and the Kankakee River. Please remember JR’s family in your thoughts and prayers.


Is it possible for a river to mourn?

If so, the Kankakee has been mourning since Friday, Feb. 2. 2018, when its longtime, devoted advocate J.R. Black died at Riverside Medical Center.

Black, who grew up on a small farm just outside Clinton, was a football and track star at Illinois State Normal University. After graduating in 1961, he came to Herscher with his bride and high school sweetheart Deanna Kay Cyrulic Black.

At Herscher High School, he taught physical education, coached football and four other sports and drove a school bus for four years. He then became football coach and athletic director at Kankakee High School, Eastridge and Westview, building the outdoor sports facilities there (now again Kankakee High School) with an outstanding athletic boosters organization.

He also started the girls sports program.

He left teaching and coaching after 1977, with a football coaching record of 101 wins, 59 losses and four ties and was named regional athletic director of the year three times.

He was a local sporting goods business administrator, and downtown Kankakee business leader from 1977-93, then returned to education as coordinator of elementary school career development for the Kankakee Area Regional Vocational Education System.

On Jan. 25, Black was honored with the Daily Journal’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his decades of efforts for preservation of the Kankakee River and outdoors conservation in general.

He was longtime president, then executive director of the Northern Illinois Anglers Association, established in 1979 by him and a handful of other river advocates to combat Indiana activities that contribute the never-ending sand pollution of the river and to advocate for river programs in Illinois.

Ken Munjoy, current NIAA president, nominated Black for the lifetime achievement award, stating that “without his lifetime of commitment, the Kankakee River would not be the great natural resource that it is today. J.R. is still the great mentor to folks like me and others who have an interest in conservation and fishing and kids. We appreciate his guidance.”

Under his leadership, NIAA created and continued the Kankakee River Fishing Derby, the Kankakee River Cleanup and the J.R. Black Adopt-a-River Program and Kids Fishing Days.

Visitation will be 4 to 8 p.m. Friday at Schreffler Kankakee chapel with the funeral at 10 a.m. Saturday at Asbury Methodist Church in Kankakee.

Article from the daily journal

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