Cover photo for Gary T. Essig's Obituary
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1953 Gary 2023

Gary T. Essig

March 6, 1953 — August 2, 2023

Gary Essig — a Chicagoland native, retired computer programmer, and lover of road trips — died Aug. 2, 2023, in Madison, Wisconsin, at the age of 70.

Gary Todd Essig was born on March 6, 1953, to Calvaine and Evelyn Mae Danhoff Essig and was raised in Homewood, Illinois with his five siblings. Gary cared deeply for his family; a frequent babysitter, ice cream companion, and sounding board, he was always willing to lend a hand to help out. He graduated from Homewood-Flossmoor Community High School, then worked several jobs, including pumping gas at the nearby Clark station, sweeping floors in a pizzeria, and late-night security monitoring to later put himself through college (Governors State University). Entering the emerging field of computer programming, he eventually began a 25-year career with the Chicago consulting firm A.T. Kearney in which his skills helped modernize the firm’s international financial transactions. Here he proved himself to be a valued and dependable employee.

At Kearney, one of Gary’s co-workers — Donna Jean Sablich — was charmed by the gentleman who had enough self-confidence to wear snazzy suspenders whether they were on trend or not (which, at the time, they weren’t). She asked him out, proposed soon thereafter, and on Aug. 21, 1986, they were married at the Daley Center — followed by hot dogs for lunch and a backyard BBQ.

They built their first home in Alsip, Illinois, where they raised a daughter, Heather, and moved to Mokena, Illinois, in 1994. He enjoyed nothing more than car trips with his family as Donna, who had become a schoolteacher, graded papers in the front seat and Heather took in the sights — even if it was only a quick dash to the state line to turn around at the rest stop and return home.

Donna died in 2014, and Gary relocated to Chicago to stay close to Heather. Years later, they made a move to Madison, where he enjoyed making friends at his apartment building in the Schenk’s Corners neighborhood and became “Grampa Gary” in 2022 with the birth of grandson Gene to Heather and her husband, Adam Graf.

Gary was a creative sort who enjoyed doodling and, later in life, puzzles and mystery games. He continued his quest for knowledge through documentaries and online research on a variety of subjects. He was an early and avid Beatles fan, Whovian, and thimble collector.

In addition to Heather, Adam and Gene, Gary is survived by siblings Nancy Watland, Homewood Illinois; Donna Laluntas, Homewood Illinois; Gwen Essig, Homewood Illinois]; Gail (and Bob) Wendt, Tennessee; and Craig (and Carol) Essig, Dyer Indiana; four nieces and two nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents.

A memorial visitation will be held at Kurtz Funeral Home, Frankfort, IL on Saturday, October 7, 2023, from 9:00 a.m. until the time of memorial service 10:00 a.m. followed by a luncheon for family and friends.  Please omit flowers.

Gary’s goal had been to visit all 50 states by car, but who knows? The view of the eight he never reached might be better from wherever he is now. And there’s no tolls.



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Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Visitation

Saturday, October 7, 2023

9:00 - 10:00 am (Central time)

Kurtz Memorial Chapel - Frankfort

65 Old Frankfort Way, Frankfort, IL 60423

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Memorial Service

Saturday, October 7, 2023

Starts at 10:00 am (Central time)

Kurtz Memorial Chapel - Frankfort

65 Old Frankfort Way, Frankfort, IL 60423

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

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