James J. “Jim” Braida


AMBOY — James J. "Jim" Braida, 84, of Amboy, died Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018, at Franklin Grove Living and Rehabilitation Center surrounded by his loving family.

He was born Nov. 18, 1933, in Spring Valley, the son of James J. and Esther (Koenen) Braida. He married Marilyn Kulpa Aug. 9, 1958, at St. Valentine Catholic Church in Peru and they recently celebrated their 60th anniversary.

Jim graduated from Hall Township High School, Class of 1951, then entered the Army where he was stationed at the Panama Canal Zone as a radioman and trained in jungle warfare. Afterwards, he began his undergraduate studies at LPO Junior College (IVCC) and completed his Bachelor's and Master's degrees at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb.

In a chance campus encounter, he met Bob Reinboth, Amboy principal, who asked him if he would consider teaching at Amboy. He came to District 272 in 1960 and taught at Walton School for three years. He then taught business classes at Amboy High School for 5 years, coached football and track teams, and served as the first president of the Amboy Teacher's Association. He became principal of Amboy High School in Fall 1967, a year before the new high school was built, and remained as principal until his retirement in May 1993. In a newspaper interview, he was quoted as saying "I have never met a bad kid."

In March 2018, the James Braida Auditorium at Amboy High School was dedicated in his honor. After retiring, he was the principal and a teacher at St. Mary's School in Dixon from 1994-2000. He was a member of Illinois Principal's Association, Illinois Education Association, and the National Education Association. Jim and Marilyn also established the James Braida Teacher Scholarship to encourage students to become teachers.

Jim was a member of St. Patrick Catholic Church in Amboy, and recited the Rosary daily. He was a lifetime member of the Knights of Columbus, a member of the Amboy Lions Club where he received the Melvin Jones Award, and was a past Commander and current finance officer of Amboy American Legion Post #453. He traveled to Washington, D.C. on the Honor Flight in 2015.  He was also a member of Shady Oaks Country Club and the Depot Museum.

He was an avid St. Louis Cardinals and Green Bay Packers fan, and enjoyed golfing, fishing, sports card collecting, flea markets, and spending time with his family. He also enjoyed traveling in the US and Europe, especially Italy, which he and Marilyn visited on several occasions.

He was preceded in death by his parents, and one son James C. "Jay" Braida.

Survivors include his wife, Marilyn; three children, Perry Braida, of Amboy, Timothy Braid,a of Normal, and Bonnie Braida, of Henderson, Nev.; daughter-in-law, Donna Braida, of Princeton; four grandchildren, Shannon and Michael Braida, and Schuyler and Hanna Bielema; three step-grandchildren, Amanda (Matt) Pearson, Dustin (Kendra) Wolford, and Jodi (Royce) Fundell; and seven step-great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be held from 3 – 7 p.m., on Thursday, Sept. 13, at Mihm-Jones Funeral Home in Amboy with the Rosary recited at 7 p.m. Funeral services will be held on Friday, Sept. 14, 2018, beginning with a 10 a.m. prayer service at funeral home followed by a 10:30 a.m. Mass of Christian Burial at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Amboy, with the Rev. Timothy Draper, Pastor, officiating. Burial will follow with Military Honors by the Amboy American Legion in St. Patrick Cemetery in Amboy.