Survivor of World War II attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii from Chicago area buried in Village of Norridge, IL
NORRIDGE, Ill. (WLS) – World War II veteran Everett “Jim” Schlegel was one of the last known Pearl Harbor survivors from Chicago. He was remembered today for his service and fun-loving personality.
“It’s a very sad day for us, but we are so honored and blessed to have been a part of his wonderful life,” said Beverly Capiga, Schlegel’s daughter. “He just enjoyed everything that came his way; he just couldn’t stop living.”
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After a memorial service at Cumberland Chapels in Norridge, Schlegel was buried in Irving Park Cemetery.
He is survived by his son Bill Schlegel and daughter Beverly Capiga, as well as six grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandson.
“He really tried to make people smile. He was never negative, he was always a positive person,” his son said. “Having him as my father is the greatest thing.”
Schlegel died on December 31, 2021 on New Year’s Eve, which his daughter said seemed appropriate.
“He picked the most convenient day because at midnight we all heard fireworks and I’m sure it was everyone up there that finally welcomed him home,” she said.
A plaque honoring his military service was placed next to his coffin today. In the cemetery, a military quartet saluted and played “taps.”
“When he was drafted he had three choices, and he chose Hawaii not knowing that the war would find him,” Capiga said.
On the day Pearl Harbor was attacked, Schlegel was in the US Army, tending to mules and making sure comrades had the supplies they needed. They were stationed in the hills near the port. Schlegel told his story on the 75th anniversary of the attack.
“Nobody knew what was going on. It was almost eight hours before we knew we were being attacked,” the soldier recalled in 2016.
In addition to witnessing the war, Schlegel witnessed baseball history at Wrigley Field. His kids said he was a die-hard, lifelong Cubs fan who bled Cubbie blue.
“He spoke about the Cubs 365 days a year. It wasn’t just from April to September. It was all the time,” Bill said.
The first time Schlegel saw the Cubs in a World Series was in 1945. His son said he went to Games 6 and 7.
“He still has his ticket stubs from the 1945 game. Anyone can tell they were there, he’s the guy who has the proof,” his son said.
In 2016, Schlegel’s family set up a GoFundMe page to raise money to purchase World Series tickets. Instead, Marcus Lemonis gifted him and his son some of the best tickets at the stadium. A photo from that day shows father and son with beaming faces.
“The Cubs and the World Series together, with him by my side, was just a dream come true because we talked about it forever,” his son said.
The Cubs game is a special memory as they honored the veteran. At the grave, Schlegel’s son received the US flag that draped the coffin – a symbol of our country, a lifetime, his military service.
“It’s important that we all recognize that we’re all here together,” said Bill Schlegel, “and we need to come together as a country to be united.”
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