Louis Lujan Guerra
Louis Lujan Guerra, of Thomasboro, passed away on Thursday, August 28, 2014 at the University of Chicago Medical Center. He is survived by his wife of 30 years, Tammy; his daughters, Jennifer Tan, and Julie Cribbett; four grandchildren, Aidan and Everly Tan, Konnor and Trevor Cribbett; and several siblings. Lou was born January 3, 1949, in Los Angeles, California. He was preceded in death by his parents, Silvero and Maria Estella; and several siblings.
Lou was a devoted husband, father, “Papa,” brother, godfather, uncle, great uncle and cousin, nephew. Born and raised in East Los Angeles, Lou was a devout Catholic, and proud of his heritage. After graduating from Salesian Catholic High School, he wanted to join the monastery and lead a faith-filled life serving God. Then the Army called him up, and he proudly served his country as a soldier. He retired from the U.S. Army in 1990 – a highly-decorated Staff Sergeant, after serving his country for 20 plus years. Lou served in Vietnam, along with tours in Korea, Thailand, and SHAPE Belgium. When he returned stateside, he worked in the Pentagon in Intelligence with a top security clearance. He was recognized by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and was trusted with our nation’s intelligence secrets. Lou worked alongside Colin Powell, and some of our nation’s top generals. Several years after retirement, he was asked to return to Washington DC and work for the Army again, because of his clearance with the Department of Defense. At the time, he was working for Kraft Foods in Champaign, enjoying life post-Army, along with a “workout” in the Grinding room, while sharing war stories with colleagues in the civilian world. Lou could talk your ear off about what he’s seen over his 65 years!
It was thanks to the Army that he met his wife, Tammy. While working at the Pentagon, a dear friend and Marine told Lou about Tammy. She flew to DC from Chicago to meet him in August of 1984. They jokingly referred to the meeting as a “mail order bride.” Tammy still recalls the day they met, when he told her he was going to marry her, and it truly was love at first sight. They got married a year later in Manassas, Virginia near the site of the First Battle of Bull Run.
A great father and role model, Lou taught his daughters to be self-sufficient. He spent many nights in the garage, packing bearings, showing them how to change a tire, and change a brake pad. He also instilled the importance of education, and saw both of his daughters graduate from college, thanks to his guidance.
Lou loved history, and watched everything on the History Channel; he should have been a historian. He toured battlefields around Virginia, and could tell you every battle fought. In fact, he collected dozens of bayonets, swords, guns, and war relics – all of which were proudly on display at home- many of them still showing the toll of war. He could pick up any piece of weaponry and tell you how it was made, who fought with it, where it’s been, and the battle it’s seen. Lou loved to read; he had a massive collection of books on warfare. The last book he was reading was War and Peace (which he probably read for the 100th time!) and the latest issue of Hemmings Motor News. If he wasn’t reading, he was buying more books or adding to his collection of baseball cards. Many people around town will remember Lou from the Gordyville auction and flea market – always carrying his clipboard, wearing his glasses; the guy with the white beard, who always had a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eyes. Always one to spot a good deal, he would come home with a box of books from a collector at Gordyville, or a new rookie baseball card that he just bought to add to his collection. Lou also had a passion for cars. His dream was to restore his vintage 1949 Packard hearse and limo. He had them shipped from California to Illinois. Eventually, his age got the better of him, and he sold them to a collector in the area to restore. Since he didn’t have his cars to restore, Lou loved putting together model airplanes and cars. He was just getting ready to assemble a P-61 Black Widow, which he had neatly displayed in his “man cave,” alongside lined up jars of model paint and paintbrushes. His years in the Army helped spawn his fascination with warplanes – he saw many firsthand. Lou had an eye for detail, and could recreate those warplanes down to every little detail.
“There’s a time and place for everything,” Lou always said. He knew how to have a good time! Relishing his second retirement, Lou enjoyed listening to Golden Oldies with his wife, and staying up late at night dancing like they were still in their youth. Lou had a sweet tooth; he loved ice cream, in fact he could devour a half gallon of ice cream in one sitting. Lou loved cheering on his favorite sports teams including the Cubs and Illini, and tried to get to as many Illini football games as he could. He loved tailgating, and going to football games – and even stayed to watch the Marching Illini at halftime.
Lou truly lived his life to its fullest, and always took time to stop and enjoy the magical moments. He loved sitting on his front porch watching lightning storms at night, listening to thunderstorms, standing poolside watching the sunset, enjoying the smell of the raindrops on freshly mowed lawn, and having a picnic with his wife. He reminded us all to slow down, be patient, and take the time to cherish every lasting moment.
Visitation will be Sunday, September 7, 2014 from 3 p.m. – 8:25 p.m. at Heath and Vaughn Funeral Home, 201 N. Elm St, Champaign, IL. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m., Monday, September 8, 2014, at St. Elizabeth Catholic Church, 100 S. Church St, Thomasboro, IL. Burial will follow with full military honors, at Danville National Cemetery, 1900 E. Main St, Danville, IL.
Condolences may be offered online at www.HeathandVaughn.com.
We would like to offer our sincere condolences to Jen Tan and her family for the loss of their beloved father, husband, brother, grandfather, and friend, Lou Guerra. We wish the family peace at this time, and are holding them in our thoughts and prayers.
The team members of O’Keeffe PR: Kim Sheridan, Bo McMillan, Bryan Brown, Howard Mitchell, Dale Justice, Dan O'Keeffe