James F. Nerad
Last updated 4/14/2021 at 4:50pm | View PDF
James F. Nerad, 98, of Burr Ridge, passed away peacefully in his home on March 21, 2021.
Jim will be remembered for living a life rivaling Frank Sinatra’s signature “My Way.” Born at home in Cicero, Jim was the third and youngest child of James F. Nerad Sr. and Mildred, nee Vitos, joining brother Eddie and sister Mildred. An outgoing youngster, in third grade Jim secured 79,100 votes to finish first in Berwyn’s (pop. 31,000) Merchants Most Popular Boy contest, performed solo at the 1933 Chicago’s World Fair and focused on sandlot baseball, earning the nickname “The Blotter” for his stellar glove work at third base, where nothing got by him.
He graduated from J. Sterling Morton High School in 1941 and earned his bachelor’s from the University of Notre Dame in 1947. As a young man, he wanted to be a sports columnist like Ring Lardner, so he followed his brother to Notre Dame to study journalism. Shortly into his college career, World War II broke out and he entered the Navy. He was commissioned a lieutenant junior class serving as navigator aboard a landing ship tank supporting troop landings in the Asiatic-Pacific Theatre. Returning to Notre Dame after the war, Jim realized journalism wasn’t his true calling and planned to start a neighborhood law office with his brother. He studied at John Marshall Law while working at the family business, Nerad Oil.
During this time, he was introduced to Evelyn Zavrel by his sister. Evelyn’s parents, Anton and Francis Zavrel, founded The Kenilworth Inn restaurant in Lincolnwood. He married the girl of his dreams, but as he was completing his law degree, his father-in-law became ill. He left law school to help run the Kenilworth Inn in 1955. Jim expanded operations and created one of the first-ever sports themed bars, adding multiple televisions and bookshelves loaded with resource materials, attracting sports celebrities.
Jim was a proud supporter of Maryville Academy and founded the school’s long running three-day fundraiser, Chuck Wagon Days, with his friends Ziggy Czarobski and Father John Smith. A lifelong Notre Dame football season ticket holder, Jim led the Kenilworth Inn Men’s Club on annual outings to Fighting Irish away games that became legendary. He retired from the restaurant business in 1978, retaining ownership of the building and the land where L Woods restaurant stands today. In retirement, Jim served as curator at Stephens College in Columbia, Mo.; traveled extensively (his most prized trip was to Washington D.C with the WWII Chicago Honor Flight); and split time building friendships in Naperville, Pompano Beach, Fla., and Glenn, Mich., before finally settling in at King-Bruwaert. Jim lived for his family and will be greatly missed.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 67 years, Evelyn, in 2017.
He is survived by his children, Toni (David) White, James K. (Janine) Nerad and Mary (Jim) Bolts of Hinsdale; his grandchildren, James (Nancy), Anthony (Dorothy) White, Jennifer (Jon) Bogs, Sarah, Abby and Kenan Nerad and Evan Bolts; his great-grandchildren, Norah and Maxwell White and Liam and Vivienne Bogs; and his devoted caretakers, Randy Javellana and Phoebe Colongon.
A funeral Mass and life celebration will take place at a later date.
Memorials may be made to the Lincolnwood American Legion Post 1226, where Jim was the longest standing member.
Brian Powell Funeral Directors of Hinsdale handled the arrangements.