Gilbert R. Swoboda Jr.
Gilbert R. Swoboda Jr., affectionately known as “Rags” by his family and friends, of Cairo, died Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018, at the Chateau Girardeau in Cape Girardeau, at the age of 98.
Born on June 1, 1920, “Rags” lived his entire life on 18th Street in Cairo. He was the son of Gilbert and Alice Swoboda and was self-employed in his family business, Gilbert R. Swoboda and Company Inc. until his retirement.
He was inducted into the U.S. Army on Sept. 22, 1941, and served in the infantry and as a specialty heavy machine gunner.
He achieved the rank of staff sergeant. “Rags” fought in the Aleutian Islands, the Eastern Mandates, the South Philippines and the Ryukus Islands (Okinawa).
He was awarded four Bronze Stars, as well as the Good Conduct Medal. He was wounded in the head in a battle at Leyte and was awarded the Purple Heart on Feb. 20, 1945.
He also earned the Asiatic Pacific Theatre Campaign Ribbon, the Philippine Liberation Ribbon and the American Defense Service Ribbon, as well as four overseas bars.
He was released from service to his country on Sept. 18, 1945, to come home to his family business.
“Rags” also followed in his father’s footsteps as a director for First American State Bank; he served in that capacity for 40 years.
In 2017, he was honored by the Cairo Elks Club as the longest living member of that organization with a membership of 72 years. He was also a member of the VFW of Mounds.
“Rags” was preceded in death by his parents and three sisters, Gussella Walston, Alice Johnson, and Marie McRoy.
Also preceding him in death were his wife of many years, Dimples (Patterson) Swoboda, as well as his son, Gilbert R. (Gibby) Swoboda III.
Surviving “Rags” are one daughter, Nancy (Edward) Doss of Mounds; three grandchildren, Burton (Angie) Doss of Madison, Miss., Stephen R. Swoboda and Gregory R. Swoboda of Cape Girardeau; as well as two great-grandchildren, Jackson Moran Doss and Harper Maryn Doss of Madison, Miss.
He is also survived by one nephew, Lewis F. McRoy Jr. of Marion, as well as two nieces, Patricia (Stan) Johnson of Indianola, Miss., and Laurie Johnson of Vicksburg, Miss., as well as one daughter-in-law, Linda (Bucher) Swoboda.
“Rags” will also always be remembered by his dear friends, Brooks High and Tom Hoffmann.
An Elks service was held at 12:45 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 12, at Mighty Rivers Regional Worship Center in Cairo.
Funeral services were at 1 p.m. Wednesday at the church, with the pastor, the Rev. Larry Potts, officiating.
Interment followed in Spencer Heights Cemetery at Mounds, with military honors accorded by area veterans and the Illinois National Guard.
Memorials can be made to the church or to the Cairo Public Library.
Crain Funeral Home of Cairo was in charge of arrangements.
To view the full obituary or to leave an online condolence for the family, please visit www.crainsonline.com.