Hampshire man remembered as generous, avid cyclist
Dennis Jurs, an avid cyclist who played a key role in bringing major bike races to Elgin, was remembered as a nice, soft-spoken man who was always generous with fellow cyclists.
Jurs, 68, of Hampshire, died riding his bike in a collision with a vehicle Monday afternoon at Walker and Allen roads in an unincorporated area near Hampshire. The vehicle stopped on Walker Road at the stop sign with Allen Road and entered the intersection; Jurs, who didn't have a stop sign and was wearing a helmet, struck the vehicle on the passenger side, officials said.
The day of his accident Jurs had worked half-day at Cla-Val in Elgin, where he'd worked for 43 years, regional manager Andy Caselli said. Jurs was regional manager until about three years ago, when he transitioned to sales in anticipation of retiring in another two years or so, he said.
"He was a very good, upstanding professional gentleman. Very knowledgeable," Caselli said. "For me, personally, he was like my mentor for 20 years."
Jurs was married to Julia McClendon, CEO of the YWCA Elgin, and had two daughters and seven grandchildren.
He served in the Army with the 65th Engineering Battalion, 25th Infantry Division in Plieku, South Vietnam, and earned a Purple Heart. He joined the California-based company that manufactures automatic control valves in 1972, Caselli said.
"He had a lot of friends in the industry, all of whom I had to call yesterday and had to tell them about this," Caselli said Wednesday. "They are all pretty much in shock, just like the rest of us."
Jurs had been a member since the mid-1990s of Team Mack Racing Association based in Springfield, team owner Gary Doering said.
"He was a racer on the team, but he was also a good friend," Doering said. "He died doing what he loved to do, out on his bike. It's sad, but that's what he loved to do -- ride."
Jurs was instrumental in bringing to Elgin an under 23 Union Cycliste Internationale race, called the Four Bridges of Elgin, from 2000 to 2003, and directed the Elgin Cycling Classic for a few years in the mid-2000s, Doering said.
Elgin Councilman John Steffen said he became good friends with Jurs when they co-chaired the Elgin Classic committee.
"He was one of the most straight-up guys, honest and hard-working. He certainly was diligent," Steffen said. "He ended up shouldering a lot of the responsibility and the work that goes into creating those events."
Jurs truly was passionate about cycling, Doering said. "He was always on his bike training, always competing," said Doering, who'd hoped to find his old friend this weekend at the Memorial Day ABD Masters Criterium Series in Wood Dale. "His favorite event was timed trials against the clock. He really enjoyed doing that a lot."
He also never failed to be generous, such as when he provided meals for the whole team during races or when he gifted an expensive bike to a young team member in need, Doering said.
"He was one of the nicest people I've ever met," he said. "It's a terrible loss. I'm still reeling from it. My wife is very upset too. She knew Dennis very well. He's going to be missed in the race circuit."
Visitation is 4 to 8 p.m. May 25 at Laird Funeral Home, 310 S. State St., Elgin. Funeral services begin at 10 a.m. May 26 at the funeral home followed by burial with honors at Bluff City Cemetery in Elgin.