Heath and Vaughn Funeral Home - Champaign Il

Today is

James H. Cross

Celebration of Life services for James H. Cross, 72, of Champaign, will be at noon, Thursday, June 4, 2015, at Heath and Vaughn Funeral Home, 201 N. Elm, crossChampaign. The Rev. David Ashby, Champaign Fire Department Chaplain, will officiate.

Visitation will be from 10 a.m. until service time on Thursday at the funeral home.

Entombment will be at Mt. Hope Cemetery, Champaign.

Mr. Cross passed away at 3:37 a.m., Monday, June 1, 2015, at Carle Foundation Hospital, Urbana.

He was born on January 11, 1943, in Urbana, Ill., the third child of Everett and Lillian Cross.

He graduated from Urbana High School in 1961. After high school Jim went to work for his father at H.S. Grindley Company, delivering, installing and fixing appliances.

He married Linda K. Sawyer on January 9, 1965, and they set about making a life together. They were married for more than 50 years. She survives.

He joined the Champaign Fire Department in 1970 and was a firefighter for almost 30 years, retiring as a lieutenant in 1999.

Retirement didn't suit Jim. He needed to stay busy. Fortunately, he had purchased Huber's West End store back in 1989 so he would have “something to do” on his days off from the fire department. He expanded Huber's, making more room for customers and live entertainment. He also expanded his car collection. Jim was always fascinated with cars; they were in his blood. As a young man he built and raced his own hot rods. But he loved all kinds of cars, from roadsters to speedsters to touring cars.

He was a fixture in C-U’s 4th of July Parade, winning awards every year for his beautifully restored cars. They were a source of great pride to him.

His family was another such source. He and Linda have two children, Melissa Hildreth of Highland, Mich., and Chris Cross of Ballwin, Mo., as well as five grandchildren. He was a fiercely loyal husband and father and a "cool" grandpa. He will be sorely missed, from his (often unsolicited) opinions on any number of topics to his (much appreciated) advice and help with subjects ranging from home improvement to career paths.

He is gone too soon and we are poorer for that. However, our family takes comfort in knowing that Jim, as he did in all things, got his money's worth out of all 72 years — he insisted on it.

Memorial donations can be made to the Fire and Police Memorial, Community Foundation c/o Brad Diel 307 S. Randolph St., Champaign, IL 61820.

Online condolences may be offered at www.HeathandVaughn.com.



My thoughts and prayers go out to you and the kids. Jim will be missed.

Cheryl Bender-Aikman


For too short of a time I knew Jim and always enjoyed conversation with Jim and his gang. I will remember these times forever.

Corey Goldthorpe


Having grown up with Jim, my remembrance is that he constantly had a positive attitude that uplifted all of us around him. His accomplishments in life were predictable, given his dedication and abilities. Just knowing he was still present and active in C-U gave me pleasure and preserved a remote connection with the community. Nothing anyone can say will ease the grief you are now enduring. Jim was a remarkable person, who will be missed by many. His legacy will live on thru his family, and you have his great example to help in maintaining that legacy.

Terry R Menefee
UHS ‘61
Fresno, California


Nadja and I are in Philadelphia with our grandchildren and will not be back in time for the visitation to the family of my UHS classmate, Jim Cross. We are sorry for his loss.

Steve Shoemaker


Hi Linda, we are saddened by the passing of Jim, [your lifemate of more than 50 years]! Sandy and I send our thoughts and prayers for God's covering of peace, comfort, strength, and understanding for all of the family!

—Love Duder and Sandy.

I [Duder] was one of the neighborhood boys that grew up together with Jim and am thankful for the many memories of our lives touching, and the "cars" and fun at the H.S. Grindley Company on Griggs Street, Urbana and the high school years.

The neighborhood will never be the same—Carl "Duder"