In Memory

James W. Lagocki, MD

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06/18/20 10:23 AM #1    

Thomas Kent Marquardt

Jim and I became very close friends when we were at GE.  He taught me to drive stick shift in his father's 1955 Plymouth and I didn't wreck it.  We referred to it as having "friendly fenders" as rust was overtaking the front fenders and they sometimes appeared to be waving when you drove it.  There was a point where Jim's dad was getting ready to purchase a new car (Jim's mother didn't drive) and it was going to be a Dodge Coronet with a large V8 and a 4 speed.  I was envious but Jim begged me to tell his dad to get power steering for it and that his dad was resisting that idea.  I talked to his dad and he told me that he, of course, was going to get power steering but that he didn't want to tell Jim that as it would only encourage him to want something else.  It's generally later in life that we discover how smart our parents have become.   A lot of basketball on his hoop in the driveway and Jim set up a hoop in the garage that we could palm a volleyball and dunk.  I'd like to say that I was a better dunker than Jim but the truth would get in the way.  One summer we sold ice cream from converted golf carts which wasn't too profitable, but it kept us busy.  We purchased a 1950 Mercury together that his dad graciously allowed us to work on in his garage and with the help of a friend we got it running.  We never licensed it and we spent countless hours backing it down his driveway into his Uncle's driveway across the street and then accelerating at a stupid speed back to Jim's garage.  If they made a move, it could have been entitled "how to keep GE graduates busy."  

After I moved to WDC Jim and Jan came and visited me and I recall they also visited me in Boston and/or NYC and Detroit.  When I met the plane in WDC to pick them up I couldn't figure out what looked different only to discover that the two of them were coming off the plane with the Boston Celtics and they, Jim and Jan, looked like little Lego figures as everyone else was about 6'5" or better. 

Cathy and I met Jim and Jan at their condos in CO and IL and also got together in Peoria, Madison, Michigan and places in between. In CO, Jim convinced me to take our son and join him for an overnight hike in the mountains.  Bad weather that night, but Jim had multiple plastic bottles of scotch to soothe our aching muscles.  In the middle of the night an "outward bound" group marched through our campsite and ensured that we were sleep deprived by their chanting. Our familes traveled well together and it was just plain fun to be with them.  Jim's only apparent mistake in my book was that he chose "Beta" over VHS.

Jim was one of the smartest people I have ever known.  At GE, he typed his notes up for Mr Diedrick's class (social studies or civics?) and then sold them.  I was an eager purchaser and as Mr Diedrick wanted to review our notes I turned them in.  He did comment that my "notes" resembled the notes of someone in one of his other classes.  Dodged a bullet on that one and at the end of the day, the notes made me a better student and Jim a bit richer.

Jim was a dear friend, talented athlete, piano player, great doctor (he helped with tubes in our daughter's ears) but most of all a great guy.  He will be missed.  Rest in Peace my friend. 

06/18/20 03:12 PM #2    

Mark Wieting

Jim and I go back to grade school at Hammerschmidt. He lived on Grace Street, Wayne Barton on Lombard, and Bill Brynjolfsson on Stewart, and I on Hammerschmidt, all near the intersections with Taylor, So we usually walked to school together, and then on to Lombard Junior High, then East.

We were in Cub Scouts together, with his parents and mine [mostly the mothers] being Den Parents responsible for thinking up activities for the likes of the four of us, plus Frank Grass, Ken Fleck and others. Jim's dad had a lot of tools and even a majestic thing called a drill press, and we Cub Scouts made real things out of wood, and we did ceramics. Jim was usually the first to finish whatever project we were doing. One of the tasks in the Cub Scout handbook was to make a whistle out of a tree branch and Jim made it. Mine never worked and then he pointed out to me that the page was entitled "Willow Whistle," and he had gone out and found a willow tree for his branch. No wonder....

Along about junior high, Jim was a fount of knowledge about the one thing most of us knew very little about: reproduction--sex! Most of our group were way behind the girls in class, who had the advantage of--in about 5th grade--seeing a movie in school on the hows and whys of their changing bodies. I remember asking one of the girls who had just returned from that movie [boys not allowed] what it was about, and receiving the answer, "cooking." Certainly not something a 5th-grade boy would be interested in. But Jim's parents had given him a book about sexuality and he had read it. He knew what he was talking about, even in 7th grade.

He was a really good athlete. His skill was built around speed--he was FAST. Probably the shortest guy on various basketball teams, he was very quick and, take it from me, awfully hard to guard. His speed gave him an edge when through the years we went from trying to touch the net, to trying to touch the rim, to trying to dunk. I don't know if he ever dunked but I think he came close--not bad for a guy well under 6 feet tall. He lettered in basketball and track at east and was also on the sophomore golf team.

He went off to Beloit College [with John Vance among others, I think] and our paths diverged. But whenever we ran into each other, by plan or by chance, it was always easy to pick up where we'd left off. He was the same smart, competent and friendly guy I'd known since Hammerschmidt. I'm sure he was a caring and extremely capable physician. He and Janet made a great pair and I will miss him.


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