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Gerald ‘Jerry’ Ruder



WILMINGTON — Gerald “Jerry” Ruder, 94, of Wilmington, passed away peacefully Tuesday, May 1, at his home.

Born Oct. 23, 1923, in Herscher, Gerald Raymond was a son of Edwin and Alice (Fritz) Ruder. From an early age, Jerry excelled in academics and after skipping a couple grades, graduated with Herscher High School Class of 1939 at the age of 16.

Jerry began working as a farm hand, and it was a few years thereafter while attending a St. Rose young people’s church picnic, that Jerry met Lucille Margaret Keigher. Together they went on to marry on Sept. 8, 1951, at St. Rose Catholic Church in Wilmington.

Jerry’s employment was agriculturally driven his whole life. Aside from owning and operating the Herscher gas station, Jerry managed Hendrick’s Hatchery; went into business with his brother-in-law, George Reiter, with a Farm Implement Dealership in Tonica; managed the farm implement in Leonore; managed Walter Equipment Company in Grand Ridge; and became an agent for All American Life and Casualty in 1970.

He went on to take over his uncle’s business and became a broker for Kankakee County Mutual doing hail damage adjusting while subbing as a rural mail carrier in Grand Ridge. Jerry did take on a full position as a mail carrier and in recent years was a limousine driver providing airport livery. It was until the age of 80 that Jerry maintained his independent insurance brokerage business, Ruder Insurance Agency.

A man of strong faith, Jerry was a dedicated member of St. Rose Catholic Church in Wilmington, where he served as an usher for more than 40 years, and was a member of the Knights of Columbus.

Prior to moving to Wilmington, he was president of the Community Council in Grand Ridge and very active in the men’s organization at St. Mary’s Church in Grand Ridge. Jerry served as president of Marquette High School parents club and was proud to have been honored at the Marquette Gala for his extensive volunteer work.

Jerry was a huge Chicago Cubs fan. He traveled extensively to 48 states, and loved the beauty of the Mill Race. Until late in life he maintained his daily habits, and was a devoted husband, who cared for his wife in her final years with Alzheimer’s.

All who knew Jerry Ruder would agree that he was hardworking, kind and held a genuine concern for all who were near. Jerry was deeply devoted to his loved ones, and his family was his greatest source of pride and joy. Deeply loved, he will never be forgotten.

Survivors include his three daughters, Colleen (Stephen Klasko) Wyse, of Philadelphia, Pa., Dr. Maureen Ruder, of Evanston, and Celine Bennetts, of Plainfield; four grandchildren, Elizabeth Bennetts, of Chicago, and Nolan Buchanan, Aaron Buchanan and Kyle Buchanan, all of Evanston; one brother, Jerome Ruder, of Herscher; three sisters, Audrey Kyrouac and Beatrice Hinderer, both of Bourbonnais, and Joan (Bob) Cowgill and Betty Sicard, both of Florida; and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.

Jerry was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Lucille (2013); siblings, Elaine Zeimer, Lorraine LaVoie, Dorothy Schnell, Dr. Bernard Ruder and Leonard Ruder in infancy; and his son-in-law, William Buchanan.

The family will receive friends for a visitation from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, May 11, at Baskerville Funeral Home, 700 E. Kahler Road in Wilmington. Jerry will then lie in state Saturday morning, May 12, at St. Rose Catholic Church, 604 S. Kankakee St., Wilmington, from 10 a.m. until the time of funeral services at 11 a.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will be concelebrated with the Rev. Sebastian Gargol and Rev. Paul Schweiter, O. Carm., presiding.

Burial will be in Mount Olivet Catholic Cemetery in Wilmington, where Jerry will be laid to rest with his late wife, Lucille.

Preferred memorials may be made as gifts in Jerry’s memory to St. Rose School or to Kuzma Care Cottage.

Family and friends may sign the guest book, upload photographs or share Jerry’s memorial page online by logging onto

Funeral services and arrangements have been made under the direction and care of Baskerville Funeral Home in Wilmington.

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