Cover photo for John Allen Wilhelm's Obituary
1956 John Allen Wilhelm 2024

John Allen Wilhelm

January 30, 1956 — May 29, 2024

Cary

“Ego free and stinky feet, just a touch of arrogance but no hint of conceit”
    John Allen Terry 

With a gentle, warm morning breeze blowing through the open doors, our dad peacefully passed away at the age of 68, surrounded by family.

John was born on January 30, 1956. He was a Chicago dude through-and-through, charmingly referring to himself as a “recovering Catholic” but proudly boasting his Gordon Tech High School diploma. As a kid and an adolescent, John emulated everything that was cool about the Ravenswood neighborhood on the North side. 

From playing softball at Welles park to allegedly sweeping the bleachers at Wrigley Field for tickets, “Johnny” was the definition of the easygoing, street smart, baseball loving Chicagoan that we all wanted to be. 

During his formative years, John fell in with an entourage of assorted and disorderly young merry pranksters, embarking on their next chapter of life with celebrations, cigarettes and pot, affordable libations, football on the “tube” and very loud music. Ah yes, these hardworking weekend warriors had no idea they were “living the dream”. 

That’s when the beautiful Linda and her 7-year old son (ironically named John Allen) came into the picture. A love match for the ages, he easily took on the role of partner then husband, and most impressively father. John and Linda’s hearts intertwined, sharing adventures and cherished experiences. For nearly 43 years, they danced through life’s seasons — a legacy that can never be forgotten. 

“I was lulled to sleep by laughter and debate and the vinyl sounds of the Grateful Dead, the Allman Brothers and Jimmy Buffett.”
    John Allen Terry 

John touched the lives of so many through an unwavering love for his family, a fierce loyalty to his friends, a strange quirkiness no one can really put their finger on, and an impeccable taste in music. He lived by a simple philosophy: work hard, play hard, love hard, repeat. He revealed to us the wisdom of simplicity, recognizing early on that "the right thing to do" is often the easiest thing to do – thus making life a hell of a lot easier. 

During his working years, our dad was not a man of many words. He’d get home, crack a book (and usually a miller lite), throw literally any sport on television for background noise, and plop down for a night of solitude and relaxation. 

My most prized memories aren’t from theme parties, vacations, or music festivals, nor from shared laughter. Instead, they come from those quiet weeknights and Sundays when we dozed in and out of sleep while watching the Cubs lose.” 
    Jenny Anaya 

He worked his ass off to ensure just the right amount of comfort for our family. He understood the value of parenting over providing. Although our vacations were not extravagant, we cherished every single one. Of the many, heading up north was Captain John’s favorite. Often, he sacrificed his own fishing endeavors to position us in the “perfect spot” or “on the hump”. As a result, there might be a few fishing poles at the bottom of the Chippewa flowage, courtesy of John Wilhelm.

Although he tried his best to hide it through a somewhat gruff exterior, our dad was a romantic with a bleeding heart. A warm heart that couldn’t help but shine through. 

  • It revealed itself even when he was giving us a full ESPN post-game analysis of our childhood sports matches

  • It revealed itself at school functions where he’d sit quietly though yet another terrible musical performance put on by 13-year-olds 

  • It revealed itself at home when we’d catch him giving treats to the pets “he never wanted” 

  • It revealed itself at a Grateful Dead show when after decades of following the band around with friends, he finally saw them with his youngest brother, looked over at him crying and asked “why didn’t we do this sooner?” 

I realized my dad and I truly understood each other when I introduced my future wife to him. Instead of exhausting sentimental words, his stamp of approval was simply saying, “Nice bumper sticker.”  Those seemingly casual words carried a much deeper meaning. 
    Justin Wilhelm 

Our dad was a committed and fun friend who left a lasting impact on everyone he met. Even in his 60’s, many of his friendships still stretched back to grade school – a true treasure that many of us were not able to hold onto. 

Despite his no-nonsense approach, he reveled in individuality and oddities. Truly, he was kind of a weirdo himself. Accepting others for who they were came naturally, which is why his circles were so large and certainly not geographically confined - Yet another natural talent many of us cannot claim.  

Music flowed through his veins. He never pushed his music choices on his wife and kids but oh what an inadvertent gift he has given us. He always provided the great artists and songs that became the background "hum of home". A Grateful Dead enthusiast, he could shake his bones and put down some Kentucky hoo-ha with the best of them, all while donning khakis and sensible shoes. 

He had an overwhelming collection of plastic Christmas characters that graciously lit up his yard every year. The radiant glow from his Bensenville home might even be visible from space, as if NASA were using it as a cosmic lighthouse. 

John is survived by his loving wife, Linda, their three children and spouses, John Allen (Karyn), Justin (Cole), and Jenny (Jeremy), his granddaughter, Piper, and his brothers, Jim and Jerry and their families. If we’re to believe there is an afterlife, our hope is that he and his late grandson, AJ, are shooting the shit on a lake and sharing their latest musical discoveries with each other. 

In lieu of flowers (or anymore freaking food), the family requests donations to the Alzheimer’s Association, which he cared about deeply. A celebration of John's life will take place in the future, honoring the guy who lived everyday like it was his last. 

“Lately it occurs to me. What a long, strange trip it's been.”
    Grateful Dead  


Arrangements entrusted to Chicagoland Cremation Options in Schiller Park, Illinois
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of John Allen Wilhelm, please visit our flower store.

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