James “Jim” Herbert Probst, 75, of rural Sigel, passed away at 5:58 p.m. on March 20, 2022, in the loving hold of his family. James was born February 3, 1947, the beloved son of Stella and Ambrose Probst.
Jim married the love of his life, Valerie Ann Voris, on August 17, 1973, at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Sigel, where Jim was a lifelong, dedicated member. Married for 48 years, Jim and Val built their home and family in rural Sigel on a livestock and grain farm. Jim’s happy spot was planting and reaping the harvest alongside his son Ted, his nephew, Jason Ordner, and all the farm employees.
“Come with me into the fields” was his abiding invitation. From bean-walkers to straw-balers, to rock-gatherers, to grandchildren tending secret gardens, many walked the fields with him. There, they learned his model of responsibility, determination, hard work and strength.
If Jim wasn’t farming, chances are he was praying or serving his community. He is lovingly remembered as a man of integrity, who cherished and lived his Catholic faith through daily readings of the Bible, nightly rosaries, and hosting a Saturday morning prayer group.
Jim loved the rosary and believed in the power of prayer. Mother Teresa’s prayers for simplicity inspired him and Padre Pio’s philosophy of “Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry” became an ongoing meditation during his battle with cancer. Another quotation he loved and tucked inside his Bible read, “Happiness does not come to us by searching for it. It comes quietly as we are helping others.”
And that he did. If a car broke down on the interstate or someone was in trouble, Jim came to the rescue. Jim’s guidance helped weather many a storm from flooded basements and turned-over vehicles to misplaced keys. Often, he’d say, “Everything should have a home,” and “Work hard and finish the job.” He also knew when to say nothing at all. In the end, he knew that it was okay to cry, to be sad, and to be carried. Known for carrying others, Jim was strong and wise enough to be carried when needed.
Jim loved watching Cardinal baseball and Illini basketball. But time with family was his greatest treasure. He loved playing pinochle, Scrabble, and trivia with friends, family and grandchildren. He scored every game himself, kept track of cards, predicted what you were playing next, and beat everyone, handily winning his last four-handed pinochle game with his grandsons 148 to 49. He wrote to his grandchildren, “May all your pinochle games be blest with excitement!” Even though he typically won, when asked what he wanted to be remembered for, Jim simply said, “Love.”
Jim attended St. Michael’s School in Sigel. He graduated Teutopolis High School in 1965, obtained a bachelor’s degree from Southern Illinois University Carbondale as a soil scientist in 1969, and received a University of Illinois Master of Science in agronomy in 1971. As he would remind all, “It’s not dirt, it’s soil.”
He was a National Farmers Organization officer, past president of St. Michael’s school board, and a high school religion teacher. Jim helped start adult religious education at St. Michael’s through the DeSales program, served as a DeColores leader, and was a Knights of Columbus member.
As a faithful parishioner, Jim took his turn as the church picnic director but preferred the bingo stand. He was especially proud of his service with Sr. Pat Thies on the school board and their efforts to bring back the annual Swine and Dine breakfast.
Jim is survived by his wife, Valerie, and their five children: Sarah Probst Miller and husband, Matt, from Monticello, IL; Molly Probst Bravo and husband, Ivan, of Doha, Qatar; Emily Probst Miller and husband, Todd, from Atlanta, GA; Ted Probst and wife, Mandy, of Sigel, IL; and Lucy Lee and her husband, Kerris, of Village of Lakewood, IL, and their 18 grandchildren.
Jim is also survived by his six siblings: Betty Boos of Effingham, IL; Mary Margaret Bubash of Waterloo, IL; Ambrose John Probst of Hinesville, GA; Susan Ordner and husband, Tom, of Sigel, IL; Sharon Lamar and husband, Steve, of Swan Valley, MT; and Angie Esker and husband, Joe, of Teutopolis, IL. Jim was preceded in death by his parents; his beloved nephew, Tommy Ordner; and one grandson, Matthew Probst Miller.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to St. Michael School’s building fund. Visitation will be held from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Friday, March 25, 2022, at St. Michael the Archangel Church of Sigel, with a wake service at 7:00 p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10:00 a.m., Saturday, March 26, at St. Michael the Archangel Church of Sigel, with Fr. Sunder Ery officiating. Burial will immediately follow at St. Michael Cemetery. Amen.
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