James Keenan Pridmore
Born: December 27, 1960
Died: October 10, 2021
At the end of a life, especially one that ends all too soon, it's easy to dwell on the destination. Fortunately for everyone that knew and loved James Keenan Pridmore, he had a favorite creed he would recite often throughout his passage: "Life is all about the journey." Throughout his life these simple words were a compass in a steadfast pursuit led by curiosity and above all – an intense passion.
James' journey began December 27, 1960. Born to Lawrence and Virginia (Barrett) Pridmore, he grew up in LaGrange Park with his four older siblings. From there he attended the University of Notre Dame where he met his wife, Libby, and went on to have their sons, Keenan and Jack. James was a highly respected banker, with a successful 30-year career. These were some of the waypoints, but to truly remember James is to heed his advice and reflect on the magic in the middle.
No holiday for the family was left without a set of unique and meticulous traditions. From the poetic riddles that Easter bunnies and St. Paddy's leprechauns would leave across scavenger hunts, to stories of "Patch" the Halloween ghost, to the proper way to send a list to Santa (burn it of course so the smoke goes to North Pole where it'll be reconstituted) and birthday parties with Nickelodeon Double Dare production value – he left no stone unturned when there was a chance for wonder.
On most weekends, you would find him throwing an endless stream of wiffleballs for home run derby in the driveway complete with carefully chalked lines, a homemade Kensington Field scoreboard, and Jock Jams blaring (likely to the chagrin of neighbors). At times you'd even find him bravely donning less than protective goalie gear as the neighborhood boys took turns firing pucks on his net.
His boys were given clear principles and expectations, but also the gift and permission for the joys of mischief. The basement was outfitted with a bb gun range, their pockets filled with stink bombs and fireworks, the garage housed mopeds and the backyard came complete with an Olympic trampoline. When he wasn't helping them get into some trouble, he could always be counted on to help them through their own.
James liked to profess that he was an esteemed member of the "look-it-up club." His curiosity knew no bounds when a subject caught his ample attention. The family wondered at times if he might be the first to finish reading the internet as he dug in mapping out the family genealogy, studying Irish history, and immersing himself in the Civil War. This research ultimately led to an incredibly detailed and exhaustive (the boys might argue exhausting) family odyssey covering nearly every point of interest from Gettysburg to Shiloh, Mississippi.
In his treasured quiet hours, you might find James engrossed in technology or music. He built his first computers, coded games for the original Atari, spent countless hours reveling in computer and video games, and was ever the early adopter of new gadgets (if anyone is interested in 200 laser discs, let the family know). He even taught himself to play the Irish tin whistle and guitar. He passed both these passions along to his son, Keenan, who carries the nerd torch proudly.
James was a lover of dogs. His bichon frisé, Malachy, could often be found perched atop his shoulder as the two enjoyed a bowl of freshly cracked pistachios together. Malachy and Rory (his other furry bichon friend) would often star in a series of comic strips that James would write and photoshop. He created hundreds of these, some even came complete with animation.
Last but not certainly least, James was a believer in the power of nature. He often referred to it as "his church," and this passion took him and his family around the world on hikes from Yellowstone to the Appalachian trail, the Bernese Alps of Switzerland, the home turf of Ireland, to snowshoeing and paddling across his beloved Montana. He was always most at home amongst the majesty of mountains or the peace of a glassy lake.
James' destination was a trying and unfair one, with mental illness robbing him and his loved ones of a longer road together. Nonetheless, they treasure his journey above all. People like James seek the magic in this world, crack into the marrow, look a little closer; and better yet, reveal it to the rest of us lucky to love them.
We were all so fortunate to walk alongside him on his life's journey.
James is preceded in death by his father Lawrence, and survived by his mother Virginia, former wife Libby, son Keenan and daughter in-law Allison, son Jack and daughter in-law Amanda, his grandchildren Marin, Henry and Eleanor, his siblings Chip, Peggy, Annie, Mark and many beloved nieces and nephews.
The family will be hosting a celebration of James' life on Sunday, October 24 from 1-3pm at Katherine Legge Memorial Park in Hinsdale at the south pavilion. All are welcome. If you would like to make a contribution, please consider donating to the National Alliance on Mental Illness or the National Park Foundation.
Published by Suburban Life Publications from Oct. 14 to Oct. 21, 2021.