James Kucera, a retired colonel in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps, died peacefully on Jan. 10, 2016 at Franciscan St. Anthony Hospital in Michigan City, Indiana, near his Union Pier, Michigan, home.
He was born Sept. 23, 1928 in Kladno, Czech Republic, a small farming village south of Prague. His father, Joseph, and uncle, Frank, immigrated to the United States in the early 1900s, and they bought a farm near Yankton, South Dakota.
Joseph fought for the US in World War I and became a US citizen. He returned to Kladno to marry his sweetheart Anna, who gave birth to daughters Anna and Rose, and son Vaclav (James).
When World War II broke out, the family was unable to return to Yankton. But in 1948, Mr. Kucera left for the United States and Yankton. En route, aboard the Cunard Line Queen Elizabeth, he met Chicago resident Margaret Storcel, whom he would later marry.
Inspired by his father’s service during World War I, Mr. Kucera joined the U.S. Army in 1952. He was in the infantry based in Fort Riley, Kansas, and served in the Korean War.
He returned to South Dakota after the war and worked his way through college at the University of South Dakota, graduating in 1956 with a B.A. in political science; he earned his law degree from the USD School of Law two years later. Mr. Kucera went into private practice with Brady, Kucera, & Kabeiseman, and later ran for the office of Yankton County State’s Attorney.
On Oct. 10, 1959, Mr. Kucera and Marge were married at Mater Christi Church in North Riverside.
Shortly thereafter, Mr. Kucera received orders to return to the Army and to Fort Riley, where he entered, as a prosecutor, the United States Army Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps, the legal branch of the Army concerned with military justice and military law. His son, Paul, was born in 1963.
As a JAG officer, Mr. Kucera served in Thailand; Heidelberg, Germany; South Korea and Washington, D.C. He retired from the Judge Advocate General’s Corps as a colonel in 1992.
Mr. Kucera is survived by his wife, Marge; his son Paul (Susan); his granddaughter Amy; his nephews Laddie (Linda) Drahos (son of his sister Rose), Tom Dunleavy and Rick (Robin) Dunleavy; his nieces Marilyn (Joseph) Moore, Susan Storcel, Janet (Frank) Podczerwinski and Debbie (Scott) Korinek; and his brothers-in-law John (late Geraldine) Storcel, and Joseph Storcel.
Mr. Kucera will lie in state and the family will be receiving friends and family at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016, at Mater Christi Church, 2431 10th Ave., North Riverside.
Presentation of the Colors and Military Honors will commence at 11 a.m., followed by a Mass of Christian Burial. Interment is at Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Hillside.
Ivins/Moravecek Funeral Home, Riverside, handled arrangements.