Date of Birth
Date of Death
T.J. SPORTSMAN, age 34, of Sycamore, IL, passed away tragically following an accident while he was returning home after winning a fishing tournament, not to mention biggest bass, in Wisconsin, Sunday, June 14, 2015. Taken too soon, he will never be replaced. His life and legacy live on through his family and friends.
He was born November 6, 1980, in Elgin, IL, the son of Terry Sr. and Crystal (Ericson) Sportsman.
T.J. grew up in Elgin through his eighth grade year before his family moved to Burlington. T.J. finished his education at Burlington Central High School where he graduated with the class of 1999. Before receiving his diploma he made a name for himself on the hardwood, receiving numerous awards including being named IBCA All-State . He was a four year varsity basketball player and was named Daily Herald Player of the Year his senior year. Upon graduation he had played the most varsity games ever and was second highest leading scorer in Burlington Central History. T.J. was no stranger to the ball field either, ruling first base like only he could.
T.J. eventually transferred to Northern Illinois University where he majored in Physical Education and graduated with a Masters Degree in Curriculum and Instruction.
T.J. met the love of his life in halls of his high school, but it really bloomed into something true over the summer of 1997. He and Charity Preussler danced the night away as Prom King and Queen and voted “Most Likely To Get Married”â€¦.so they didâ€¦eventually. They walked down the aisle together on October 15, 2005 and began their life in St. Charles for a time before settling down in Sycamore, IL.
While making their house a home, they began a growing family that would include two children: Andrew Christian and Abigail Joy.
T.J. first started working as a teacher at Bataviaâ€™s Alice Gustafson Elementary School in 2004. He spent the next ten years making a family for himself as part of the staff at Munhall Elementary School in St. Charles. T.J. loved working with his students. They were always close to his heart and he to theirs and will missed dearly in the halls this fall.
T.J. was almost born with a fishing pole in his hand. From nine months on, T.J. loved to cast his line and try his luck, but it was during college he began fishing in tournaments and was a constant contributor to many outdoor magazines including Midwest Outdoors. Most recently, he and Ross Tournabene were directors of Anglerâ€™s Dream Lake Michigan Circuit. T. J. was a lover of music and was never too far from quoting his favorite moviesâ€¦.of which there were many. T.J. was a born leader and teacher which was evident not only in the classroom but on the baseball field as well. He coached several teams from Little League to Middle School sports. He loved outdoors and was an avid hunter, but he was the predator when it came to softball and the number of homeruns that flew through the air. He was a loving and devoted husband who was happiest with his wife on his arm and surround by his children, family and friends. He will never be forgotten.
He is survived by his loving wife Charity and their children Andrew and Abigail;
His parents, Terry and Crystal Sportsman;
Mother and father-in-law, Donald and Shari Preussler;
His two siblings: Tia (Dan Palmiter) Sportsman and Tonsen Sportsman and his daughter Jovi;
His paternal grandfather Glenn Sportsman;
Maternal grandmother Muriel Ericson;
Many aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews and a family of friends near and far.
He is preceded in death by his paternal grandmother, Shirley Sportsman, one uncle Craig Sportsman and his maternal grandfather Eugene Ericson. T.J. will also be reunited with four angels who never got to see his face before they were born directly into Heaven.
Visitation will be from 4-8 p.m., Friday, June 19, 2015, at Lord of Life Lutheran Church, on the corner of Rt. 38 and LaFox Rd. (40W605 Rt. 38, Elburn, IL). A funeral to celebrate his life will begin at 11 a.m., Saturday, June 20, 2015, also at the church, with a time of visitation from 10-10:45 a.m. Rev. Matt Blackford, pastor of the church, will officiate. Private committal services will occur following cremation at a later time. Information on how to contribute to the family through a memorial trust and a gofundme site will be updated soon. Arrangements were handled with care by Conley Funeral Home, 630-365-6414.
In lieu of flowers, a memorial trust and a gofundme account has been opened to benefit the family and to establish a college savings plan for Andrew and Abigail. Checks have to be made to “Bright Directions FBO Andrew” or “Bright Directions FBO Abigail” and mailed to P.O. Box 66, Elburn, IL, 60119. You may also donate to thier gofundme account at www.gofundme.com/x4eet8. Tributes and memories may also forwarded to P.O. Box 66, Elburn, IL 60119.
A funeral to celebrate his life will begin at 11 a.m., Saturday, June 20, 2015, also at the church, with a time of visitation from 10-10:45 a.m. Rev. Matt Blackford, pastor of the church, will officiate.
Visitation will be from 4-8 p.m., Friday, June 19, 2015, at Lord of Life Lutheran Church, on the corner of Rt. 38 and LaFox Rd. (40W605 Rt. 38, Elburn, IL).
Private committal services will occur following cremation at a later time.