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Hans-Jurgen Kordt, 66

Hans-Jurgen Kordt, 66 of North Hudson died Thursday, July 10.

Hans was born Dec. 27, 1941, in Liegnitz, East Germany, to Hans-Werner Matthias and Lisbeth Gertrud Kordt. His father was killed during the war in 1944; his mother started to flee from the Soviet troops but became ill and died in 1945.

Thereupon, Hans Kordt was put into an orphan's home at age 4. It was not until 1951 that his aunt Dina in West Germany succeeded in getting him out of the East Zone.

Hans wanted to start a new life. He had the firm desire to immigrate to the United States and was willing to start from the bottom. He attended evening school to learn English; he had no illusions about the difficulties of a new start in a strange country.

In 1964, with a one-way ticket, one suitcase and $75, he arrived at O'Hare Airport in Chicago. Hans resided in Downers Grove, Ill., where he worked as a mechanic at a Chrysler dealership. During this time, he attended night school to study engineering and read encyclopedias to educate himself. Hans was tri-lingual in German, Danish and English.

On April 13, 1971, Hans became a U.S. citizen through naturalization. Later that year, on Oct. 10, 1971, in Simested, Denmark, he married Birgith Jensen.

For over 20 years he worked at Sauerman in Bellwood, Ill., as a structural engineer. He also worked for Dunbar Kapple in St. Charles, Ill., and Waeschle in Bloomingdale, Ill., as a project manager. During his career he acquired a patent and conducted business in Europe, Middle East, Asia, North and Central America. In his spare time he designed and approved residential construction.

Hans' enjoyment for cars spanned several years; he owned MGs to Austin Healys, but his true love was American "Muscle Cars." He was the lead mechanic on a dealership sponsored "Hemi"-powered Chrysler that raced every week at the Oswego, Ill., drag strip. Hans would joke that he had to sell his GTO to buy a Pinto once he settled down and had a family.

Hans loved working around the house and being with his family. Summer vacations were taken every year in Door County, Wis. Hans also made certain that his family was able to visit his wife's family in Denmark from time to time.

In 1974, Hans designed and built his first family home in St. Charles, Ill. They moved to Elburn, Ill., in 1990, and in the fall of 2007, Hans and Birgith moved to North Hudson to be closer to their son's young family.

In July 2006, Hans suffered a major stroke, causing him to lose mobility on his body's right side; his condition continued to deteriorate over time.

In addition to his wife, Birgith, he is survived by his son, Erik (Judy) Kordt and grandkids, Lauren and Lars, all of North Hudson; brother, Peter Paulsen of Aarhus, Denmark; and aunt, Dina Kordt of Flensburg, Germany.

"Hans-Jurgen Kordt is my hero and a great man; he took pride in being completely self-made and never wanted to burden anyone. Hans lived the American dream and always put his family first." --Erik Jensen Kordt

Arrangements have been entrusted to the O'Connell Family Funeral Home, (715) 386-3725,