John Halavonich, 97, of Staunton, died Friday, May 7, 2021, at Glenwood Supportive Living in Staunton.
Visitation will be held Monday, May 17, from 10 to 11 a.m. at Williamson Funeral Home in Staunton. Funeral services will follow at the funeral home with the Father George Radosevich officiating. Burial will be held in Holy Cross Cemetery in Gillespie. The Staunton Military Honor Guard will conduct graveside military rites.
Mr. Halavonich was born Nov. 10, 1923, in Benld, to Paul and Katie (Lisac) Halavonich. He married Catherine Garbolino Donaldson in July 1964, and she preceded him in death in January 1981. He then married Norene Sievers Gerson in December 1983, and she preceded him in death in May 2018.
He proudly served in the United States Army during World War II, inducted in March 1943. He landed in Normandy, France, on D-Day + 4 and fought in five major battles including the Battle of the Bulge. He was wounded in Germany and awarded the Purple Heart.
After his discharge in October 1945, he worked in Staunton Mine # 7 before beginning his career as a heavy-equipment operator. He started his own excavating and crane business in 1953, when he bought his first bulldozer and began working for area farmers clearing their land. During his 48 years in the excavation and crane business, he completed many projects throughout central Illinois including ponds, lakes, basements, building demolition, three-span bridges over township roads, removal of railroad ties in Gillespie and Litchfield, and the building of Interstate 55 from Mt. Olive to Worden. He was also the owner and operator of the Staunton and Litchfield Landfills. He continued to operate heavy equipment well into his 80s.
In 1983, his love of dancing and big band music led him to build the Crystal Ballroom. He and his wife owned the Ballroom until 1996. They enjoyed dancing at their own ballroom and ballrooms throughout the United States. In 1986, he also built the Crystal Inn (now the Super 8). He started Staunton Saw Sharpening around 2000, and continued sharpening “anything with an edge” for 20 years.
A lifetime resident of Staunton, he was a self-made man, known for his skills and commitment to excellence with a strong work ethic, always staying active. Until his recent move to The Glenwood at 96, one could find him mowing his lawn or working in his yard, attending gun shows with his good friend, Marvin Little, visiting with his sister, Rosemary, eating out and visiting with many friends. He always had a positive attitude and colorful personality. Because of his outgoing personality, he never met a stranger. His life was long and full.
He was a member of Operating Engineers Union # 520, Staunton VFW Post #1241, and St. Michael’s the Archangel Catholic Church in Staunton.
Mr. Halavonich is survived by his daughter, Nancy (David) McMaster of Dawson; two granddaughters, Theresa (Christopher) Fehring of Trophy Club, TX, and Sarah (Ryan) Lewis of Corona, CA; five great-grandchildren, William and Catherine Fehring, and Nicholas, Benjamin, and Matthew Lewis; one sister, Rosemary Tallman of Staunton; many nieces and nephews; Norene’s two daughters, Lois (Ron) Neal and Elaine (Greg) Bishop; and grandchildren, Jacqueline Neal, and Steve (Tammy) Kidd and Jeff Kidd.
In addition to his parents and both wives, he was preceded in death by two brothers, Paul and Mike; two sisters, Dorothy Gusewelle and Anne Knott; and a niece, Beverly Gusewelle Dooley.
Memorials are suggested to the charity of the donor’s choice, Staunton VFW Post #1241, or to St. Michael’s Catholic Church of Staunton stained glass window fund.
Online condolences may be left at www.williamsonfh.com.