Over 100 years ago, two brothers from outside Vilnius, Lithuania were lured to the shores of New York and through the gates at Ellis Island by the promise of a better life. A better life for themselves, but more importantly, a better life for the children and grandchildren they would have.
One of those grandchildren, John Gedraitis, was born on March 28, 1930. The only son of John A. Gedraitis and Mary (Daly) Gedraitis, he and his five sisters grew up holding onto that ideal that brought their grandfather to New York Harbor decades earlier – the unwavering pursuit of a full, better life, through family, hard work, and God.
No stranger to hard work, John grew up minding the Gedraitis family supermarket in Oglesby and the family farm in Granville. He graduated LaSalle-Peru Township High School in 1947. It was during this time that he met and married his high school sweetheart, Clara Amsberg. John and Clara had their hands full with five children: John Paul, married to Diane (Doty) of LaSalle; Mark Andrew, married to Judy (Walton) of Peru; Christopher Lee, married to Cynthia (Hansen) of Peru; Lisa Ann, married to John Weber of Bloomington; and Cynthia Sue of Davenport.
John later went on to work at at J&L Steel in Hennepin, where he would retire. However, not one to be idle, John resolved to open his own business. Combining his work ethic with his notorious sweet tooth, John opened the beloved Twisty Freeze with his wife Clara in 1975. Now a hallmark of LaSalle, the Twisty Freeze brings smiles to school children needing an after-school treat, baseball teams celebrating a victory, and families from all over the area making the pilgrimage to get a twist cone, a ‘cabbage patch,’ or a ‘slush.’ It was John’s favorite job – running the Twisty Freeze for 28 years with the love and support of his family, coworkers, and customers.
When he (finally) retired, John remained busy with his garden, his Chicago Bulls, his 9 grandchildren, and his 16 great-grandchildren. Though many would recognize John outside his house in LaSalle tending to his flowers, many others would also recognize his voice on the airwaves. For 50 years, John fostered a love for Amateur Radio, where he was known as WA9CEG. It was on the radio where he made friends and swapped stories with people from all over the world – the same big world his grandfather and great-uncle travelled a century previously to come to central Illinois.
John Gedraitis embodied his grandfather’s resolve throughout his entire life: relentlessly working to improve the lives of his wife, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. And when God called him, he died peacefully surrounded by his wife and five children, leaving a legacy of which his great-grandfather – and his entire family – can be proud.
WA9CEG, signing off.
John leaves his wife Clara, his sister Mary Ann, his five children and his remaining 8 grandchildren: Jason (Jenny), Jeff, Christopher (Kaylyn), Jessica, John (Nicole), Amanda, David, (Susan) and Ashley along with 16 great grandchildren. He is preceded in death by his four sisters, his daughter-in-law Judy, and his granddaughter Alicia.
John was a member of St. Hyacinth’s Church.
Memorials may be directed to the family for his favorite charities.
Online condolences may be express at www.burgessfh.com
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