Mr. Jack E. Larson, Galesburg Chapel

obit_us_flag.jpglarson-jack.jpg87, of 1155 E. Knox St., Galesburg died at 1:39 p.m. Tuesday April 13, 2010 in Seminary Manor.
He was born June 18, 1922 in Galesburg, Ill. the son of Oscar and Nellie Valentine Larson. He married Martha Houlton in San Angelo, Texas on June 24, 1944. She preceded him in death on November 11, 1997.
He is survived by three sons, Jeffrey (Gyda) Larson of St. Charles, Ill., James Larson of Springfield, Ill. and John (Peggy) Larson of Normal, Ill.; six grandchildren, Cathi, Ryan, Allison, Meagan, Adam and Kelsey, three great grandchildren, six great great grandchildren and his companion, Mary Smith. Jack is preceded in death by his wife, a son, Jack Larson, Jr., two brothers and a sister.
He graduated from Galesburg High School in 1940 and attended Knox College in 1942. During college he was a member of the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity and worked part-time at Lindstrom’s. He served in the Army Air Corp as a pilot from 1943-1945 during World War II. In 1945 their first son was born, Jack Edward, Jr. Jack returned to Knox College and graduated August of 1946. He continued to work full-time with Lindstrom’s from 1946-1979. In September of 1947, Dean Lindstom and Jack started a radio program together. Jack became the general manager in 1960.
In 1947, Martha and Jack added to their family twin boys, James Bryan and Jeffrey Douglas and moved into their home at 1155 E. Knox St. In 1958 their fourth son was born, John Robert.
From 1972-1977, Jack served on the Knox County Board including 7 committees-Building Committee for County Jail and the Finance Committee for 3 years. In 1977 he served as a chairperson for the Galesburg Board of Election Commissioners-one term as President of the Association of Election Officials of Illinois. Between 1979-1981, he worked as the general manager for WDRL Monmouth Radio Station. From 1981-1982 he was semi-retired and joined WAIK Radio Station in Galesburg, where he had a three hour show called “Music with Memories” Monday thru Friday. From 1982-1985 he had a similar program on WGIL.
Jack served as the Chamber of Commerce Director and he wrote an “Opinion” Column for the Register Mail for 13 years. He was the Master of Ceremonies for many events and was a narrator for the Knox-Galesburg Symphony on Big Band Programs for 2001, 2003 and 2005. He was a member of the Education Survey Committee\”Circa 1960. He was awarded “Book of Golden Deeds” for the Exchange Club in 1999 and recognized by Cosmopolitan Club for Committee Service. Jack volunteered for the FISH Food Pantry serving Knox County approximately over 200 hours a year, delivering all the bread to the pantry.
Jack served on the Public Library Planning Committee and was a member of the “Friends of the Library”. He served as an assistant for the bereavement support group and Children’s Grief Camp for Community Hospices of America. He also was a Reading Buddy at Nielson School, gave assistance to students in need at Lombard Middle School and served as a mentor. In honor of 50 years in radio Jack received a Key to the City of Galesburg by Proclamation from the Mayor. He served as President of the Knox-Lombard 50 Year Club from 2002-2006. He co-produced two benefit Christmas shows, was the MC for three “USO” shows. He produced and sponsored a benefit to purchase musical instruments for district 205 and Costa School students, rent free from 2003-2005. In 2003 he served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Knox-Galesburg Symphony. He received a community service award for the Rotary Club of Galesburg and awarded a plaque for District 205 for support of Music Department in 2004. Jack was recognized as “Trustee and Servant Leader of the Greater Galesburg Area” by the Leadership Greater Galesburg in 2004 and 2005. In 2004 he served as a board member of the NOVA Singers. He was honored in 2005 by “The Paper” for Community Service, received a certificate for support of and dedication to students of district 205 board of Education, was honored by the Orpheum Theatre, and was recognized by the Knox College Magazine “A Commitment to Community”. Jack was pictured with Lombard 6th grade music students in the Register Mail in 2005. He was the MC for the Knox College Variety Show in 2005 and 2006. He was voted “Favorite Radio Personality” and “Top Community Activist”. He was awarded the “Distinguished Leader Award” from the Leadership Greater Galesburg in 2006. He served as a board member on the Prairieland Hospice Foundation. Jack received the Knox College Service Award in 2006. The Knox-Galesburg Symphony paid tribute to Jack at the Orpheum May 2007. Jack also was the recipient of the Pioneer Lifetime Achievement Award from the Illinois Broadcasters Association in 2009. He was the first ever recipient of the Galesburg Area Adult Volunteer to Youth Award in 2009 and was the 2010 recipient of the Illinois “Governor’s Volunteer Service Award” Senior Category, West Central II Region.
Funeral services are scheduled for 1:00 p.m. Saturday, April 17, 2010 at the First Presbyterian Church. The Rev. David Parker will officiate. Visitation will be from 4:00-8:00 p.m. Friday, April 16, 2010 at Hinchliff-Pearson-West Galesburg Chapel. Burial will be in Memorial Park Cemetery with Military Rites by Ralph M. Noble American Legion Post 285. Memorials may be made to the Jack E. Larson Endowment Fund c/o the Galesburg Community Foundation , 575 N. Kellogg St., Galesburg Ill. Online condolences may be made at

Read the Register-Mail’s feature by Tom Loewy on Jack here.
Read the Register-Mail’s feature by John Pulliam on Jack here.
Read the Register-Mail’s feature by Tom Wilson on Jack here.
Read the Register-Mail’s editor Tom Martin’s editorial on Jack here.

Listen to WGIL’s tribute to Jack here.

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18 Guestbook Entries to “Mr. Jack E. Larson, Galesburg Chapel”

  1. In November of 2007, I wrote the following editorial in The Register-Mail about Jack Larson, who was that year’s recipient of the Thomas B. Herring Award for Community Service. Jack touched a lot of people with his kindest. He will be missed.

    Jack Larson has an angel pin on his lapel and selfless spirit in his heart. His gentle face and countenance exude goodness.

    Larson is one of Galesburg’s good guys, one of the people who make this community better, special. He largely does it without recognition. On Monday he received some of the notice that he so deserves.

    Larson is the 2007 recipient of the Thomas B. Herring Community Service Award presented by the Galesburg Area Chamber of Commerce and local service clubs.

    Larson, 85, is best known for his daily radio program on WAIK that features Big Band music. Area listeners have been treated to Larson’s gentle style and good humor for more than six decades.

    He began working part-time for Dean Lindstrom of Lindstrom’s Appliances in 1939 as a senior in high school. In 1945, after World War II, Larson went full-time, working at the store and on Lindstrom’s Sunday morning radio program. In 1979, Larson was asked to help at WMOI, the radio station Lindstrom owned in Monmouth. When the station sold in 1981, Larson became a fixture on WAIK.

    Larson’s good works have not been confined to the airwaves. He’s devoted his time, his talents and his treasurers to helping others — particularly young people.

    His love of music and desire to help young people formed a grand union a few years ago when Larson decided to promote and host a concert at the Orpheum Theater to benefit band programs in Galesburg schools.

    The result has been terrific! Thousands of dollars have been raised to buy instruments and performance clothing for aspiring band students who otherwise would not have been able to participate.

    “Music is something you can do the rest of your life,” Larson said when asked about his motivation. He said the “discipline involved” in music is good for students.

    Larson, who attended Lombard as a boy, has a special relationship with the middle school. In addition to the band instruments, he bought a “practically new” piano for it a few years ago.

    But Larson’s good works go beyond music. He’s been the driving force behind the First Presbyterian Church’s “Project Shoes and Coats” program, as well as its “Project Santa Christmas Basket” effort. Last week he used donations to buy new shoes for 122 children. Still, he laments that there wasn’t enough money to buy for all of the needy children who were identified.

    Larson has also been a leader of the FISH Food Pantry that collects and distributes food to needy families. He’s been on the Galesburg Election Commission for 30 years and has been a board member of the Prairieland Hospice Foundation, the Knox-Lombard Fifty Year Club, the Knox-Galesburg Symphony and Nova Singers.

    One of the most wonderful moments of this year’s high school football season came when Larson climbed the scaffolding and conducted the Silver Streaks Marching Band. Afterward, every student offered Larson a handshake and a “thank you.”

    On Monday, the community also offered its thanks to Jack Larson, a person with an angel pin on his lapel and a giving spirit in his heart.

  2. Jack was truly a one of a kind guy….so caring and thoughtful always! I chuckle as I remember when he told me about his “Romeo” friends….Real Old Men Eating Out! He will now know how many lives he has truly touched. God Bless and to his family…Cherish the many great memories!

  3. My sincere sympathy goes out to the family. I graduated with John and had known Jack for many years through my father, Rolland Root. Jack and dad served on the City of Galesburg Election Commission together, and we lived in the same neighborhood. Dad was very much involved in music, and would visit Lindstrom’s often to talk to talk with Dean and also with Jack. Jack Larson will be deeply missed in our community. He was a devoted family man and set a great example for his children and grandchildren.

  4. For a short period of time, I worked as the news director of WAIK, before returning to my current radio home, WGIL.

    On my first day at WAIK, I had the occasion to talk for a bit with Jack before his 9am “Music with Memories” show. Prior to my first day on the job there, I had some bad career experiences that left me without much of the confidence I once had to do a good job.

    Jack changed all that, with just a few words.

    Jack shook my hand, looked at me, and said to me, “Boy, am I so glad you’re here.”

    It’s as if the personal and professional strife that had preceded my arrival at WAIK had magically gone away. Jack’s words to me that day have never left me. They made me feel, frankly, special.

    Jack, thank you. Thank you for the guidance and support you gave me, and your contributions to this community, both on the air and off. You mean more to me — and I suspect to a lot of us — than you may ever know.

    I miss you, Jack. Godspeed.

    Will Stevenson
    WGIL News Director

  5. Next door neighbors to Jeff and Gyda for over 20 years. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

  6. Jack will be greatly missed–a great classmate from the class of 1940. He never met a stranger.

  7. To The Larson Family:
    Our deepest sympathies to you at this time. Jack was a wonderful man and an icon for the City of Galesburg and will be missed dearly. I remember listening to him when I was a young fellow growing up in Galesburg every weekend on the Lindstrom’s radio program. May God bless you at this time and always know that Jack will be in your hearts forever!
    Rob & Brenda Johnson
    Houston, Texas

  8. Our heartfelt sympathy and prayers got out to all of the Larson Family. No doubt Jack’s legacy lives on through all of you and the many, many other lives that Jack touched, Love to all of you!

  9. To Larson Family,
    My deepest condolences go out to you and your family at these most difficult times. I have great and fond memories of Jack listening to his Big Band music for years & years, since my father Luke and mother Flo would listen to his show religiously! He was a great guy and he will deeply be missed by family friends and the City of Galesburg as well. God Bless You and Your Family!

  10. I met Jack at Bloomquist Shoes thru Bob Nelson. I don’t think I’ve met too many people as kind as Jack. I will always think of him when i hear that big band sound. Thanks Jack for all you have done.

  11. I am deeply affect by this lost. He has helped me in so many ways and has touched my life dearly.
    I was the first person he had chosen to help out with in giving a musical instruments.
    I was in Jr High at the time at Lombard Jr High back in 2001, he had me come to his house to meet him with the Principal at the time and had said that I was the first person he had chosen to start his musical he would pay for my Flute for me to be in the 7Th grade band.
    It didn’t stop there…he would take me out and get me clothes and out to eat and we would always tell each other our stories in life.
    I was also a cheerleader for basketball season and he would come to all my games and band concerts.
    He would continue all the way through high school when i was also a football cheerleader and in the marching band he would come to competitions that were even out of town just to sit in the band stands to cheer me on.
    He has come to my 8Th grade graduation and my high school graduation.
    I am almost 21 years old now and he continued to stay in my life.
    He was my best friend and was the most beautiful person I have ever known and met in my life.
    I will never forget him for he has always made a light shine in my life.
    I’m deeply hurt that I never got to say Good-bye.
    Always loved and always missed.

  12. I first knew who Jack was back in the 1950’s when he worked at Lindstrom’s. One of his jobs was to write the price of EP records on the back in pencil. My dad would take me with him when he went to Lindstrom’s to buy Paul LeValle and The City Service Band of Amwerica and Spike Jones.
    Then I became re-acquainted with Jack about 10 years ago. I missed very few mornings listening to “Music With Memories”. He and I had lunch serval times and twice I was priviledged to be an “Honorary ROMEO” and eat with him and his friends here in Maquon.
    His family, his friends, music lovers and the community will all miss him. He is a man who truly derserved all of honors bestowed upon him….and more.
    He will be missed. but I am glad he and his “Angel on My Shoulder” will be reunited.

  13. sorry hear about your family lost. i only knew him for a short time but was a kind gentle man.we will miss him down at coffee. from all his friends at coffee. god bless u and your families.

  14. This is a day of sadness and condolences for the family, but also many great memories. Through Jack’s efforts, the State Farm Employees Activity Association Big Band was able to help raise money to aid the school music program in Galesburg. The gift of music is a wonderous thing, and Jack made it possible for us to contribute to the community. Jack, you’ll be missed!

  15. I worked with Jack during the 80’s at WAIK. Nothing flustered the man. He was always a gentleman and always maintained a professional decorum. I read Will Stevensons comments above and I whole heartedly agree. Jack made a deep impression on all of us who were new to the business and I suspect he made quite the impression on those who may have spent years in a broadcast booth, as well. During his WAIK days in the mid 80’s, Jack followed an ill tempered morning guy who had tossed a typewriter across the broadcast booth. Not even then did you hear criticism or a complaint from Jack. He quietly went about his business of organizing his big band vinyl so he would be ready to slide right in there during the commercial. A consummate professional, always. He and John Paisley, are no doubt, broadcasting their good humor from the heavens.

  16. We have many fond family gathering memories with Larson/Sandborg families. Our mother [Margaret [Sandborg] Klemm and Jack were 1st cousins. Our thoughts are will you. Jane, Kay and Vicki

  17. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Larson family. It is sad to suffer the loss of a patriarch and a great man. But we know Mr. Jack Larson’s legacy will live on, through his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

  18. Jack was a great guy who will be sorely missed by everyone who knew him.


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