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Franz Joseph “Joe” Vidakovich, 96, of , died Thursday, January 7, 2021, at Riverside Rehab and Healthcare in Alton. He was born January 2, 1925, in Hartford, the son of John and Katherine Zagar Vidakovich. He married Jessie Lovell on December 16, 1949, and she survives.

Joe is also survived by three children, Rob (Maureen) Vidakovich, Kate (Russ) Taylor, and Mary Jo (Dan) Sellers, all of Jacksonville; eight grandchildren, Justin (Amanda) Waltrip of San Antonio, Texas, Jacob Waltrip of Springfield, Malory (Walker) Stuart of Sylvania, Georgia, Natalie (Ryan) Taylor and Vanessa (Justin) Harder, both of Columbia, Missouri, Christopher Vidakovich of Jacksonville, Molly (Sam) Leak of Virden, and Kelsey (Brent) Mahan of Franklin. He is also survived by ten great-grandchildren, one sister, Josephine Doll of Saint Peters, Missouri, numerous nieces and nephews, and special friends Bill and Connie Terry and Mark and Dawn Stassi. He was preceded in death by four brothers, John, Nick, Lou, and Bob, and three sisters, Mary Varble, Evelyn Dailey, and Kay Mayer.

Joe enlisted in the United States Marines at 18 years old, during World War II. He earned a Rifle Sharpshooter status while in Basic Training and was stationed in Quantico, Virginia. He was deployed to the Pacific Theatre and served in the 3rd Marine Division during the Battle of Guam and the Marianas Islands. He worked for the Standard Oil Company and the Roxana School District for many years.

Joe was a long-time member of the Holy Angels Parish. He enjoyed his daily visits to the VFW. Many Saturday nights Joe and Jessie could be found in the local dance clubs with friends telling his well-known stories, “shooting the bull,” listening to live music, and dancing the night away doing the jitterbug.

He was extremely proud of his Croation heritage, immigrant parents, and his family. He shared a special love with his grandchildren, who knew him as their “Dida.” At his workbench, listening to Croatian music, and in his garden were two of his favorite places to spend leisure time. Joe spoke Croatian and loved to engage people in a Croatian conversation, whether they knew the language or not.

Joe was especially proud that all three of his children graduated from Illinois College.

Private interment will be in Camp Butler National Cemetery in Springfield. Memorials are suggested to the Wounded Warrior Foundation. The Williamson Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. Condolences may be left online at www.airsman-hires.com.

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