Jonathan G. Bunge has passed away at the age of 81. Jonathan was a beloved husband of 57 years to Trudy (nee Shoemaker); loving father of Jonathan (Jennifer) Bunge, William (Suzanne) Bunge and Katherine Bunge; cherished grandfather of Jack, Nicholas, Allison, Charles, Andrew and Sara; loving brother of Nancy Bunge.
Jonathan “Jon” was born in Lacrosse, Wisconsin, not far from Lake Wobegan, where by all accounts he had a perfect childhood. In 1954, he matriculated at where he studied at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy, socialized as member of the Tiger Inn dining club, and served as an editor of the Daily Princetonian. He also played football for a period and then became a member of the more relaxed Princeton Rugby Club.
Thankfully for all of Jon’s descendants, the Daily Princetonian provided the editorial board with a car so as to cover breaking news. It was that very car that transported Jon (and the rest of the editorial board) to Vassaar college one late summer weekend in 1957. As Jon would later recall, the only news to come from that weekend was that Trudy Shoemaker, a wide eyed freshman newly transplanted from Arkansas, agreed to go on a date with him.
After graduating with honors from Princeton, Jon moved on to Harvard Law school and continued to visit Trudy as often as he was able. After a four year courtship, and two proposals, the “Tiger from the North” (Trudy’s father’s nickname for Jon) finally won Trudy’s hand in marriage and they were wed in 1961.
After graduating with honors from law school, Jon was drafted and served in the stationed at Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina. Their first child, Jonathan, was born during this time. Upon discharge, Jon and Trudy settled in Evanston and Jon began his long and storied legal career with Keck, Mahn and Cate. He was a litigator who was tough and aggressive but not one to take himself too seriously.
Jon handled many trials and worked on some of the most important antitrust matters of his day, among other things. He was for many years the head of litigation at Keck and then managing partner of the firm. Opposing lawyers who didn’t know Jon were duped, and unarmed by his appearance — tussled hair, ink stained pockets, and crooked tie. Mr. Bunge came to be known as a litigator with a sharp intellect and unmatched work ethic.
Jon and Trudy lived in many communities on the North Shore but spent the bulk of their family life in Kenilworth. Along the way they welcomed their additional children, William and Katherine.
In the 1970s, Jon developed a love of sailing, handball and unique business investments, only one of which had staying power — real estate in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago. Over the next several decades, Jon and several partners bought and rehabbed apartment buildings in the area, including one with an existing tavern, Esky’s Pub. In 1991, Jon bought Esky’s and transformed it into Will’s Northwoods Inn, a Wisconsin themed tavern and home for Badger and Packer fans behind enemy lines. Wills and the people associated with the bar were an important part of Jon’s life, particularly after retiring from corporate law.
Jonathan G Bunge was active in various charitable organizations including the Red Cross and United Way. He was also an active member of the Holy Comforter Church serving on its vestry and in other roles. In his free time, Jon enjoyed theater, symphony and opera outings with his wife; planning Wills Northwoods activities like Packerpalooza, Musky Fest, and Neighborhood Appreciation Day; and spending time with his family, most especially his six grandchildren. He led a full and rich life and will be terribly missed.
Jonathan’s Memorial Service was held Saturday, April 21 at 11:00 a.m. at Church of the Holy Comforter, 222 Kenilworth Avenue, Kenilworth, IL 60043.