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HOBART — An 80-year-old man who died last week — by his own son's hands, police allege — was cut from the fabric of the Calumet Region, another son said.

John F. Yakubec, of Hobart, graduated from Lew Wallace High School in Gary, served in the U.S. Army in the early 1960s and retired from the former LTV Steel plant in East Chicago after 39 years of service, said his son John E. Yakubec.

"He was just a good man," the younger Yakubec said. "He was a tough, hardworking man, and he inherited that from his dad, who came over from Czechoslovakia. ... He cared for his family. He was just a great man."

Another son, Michael Yakubec, 50, was charged Sunday with murder in connection with his father's death.

According to a probable cause affidavit, Michael Yakubec claimed his father had fallen in the bathtub, but investigators and a doctor at the Hobart hospital where the 80-year-old initially was treated determined his injuries were not consistent with a fall.

Instead, investigators allege the elder John Yakubec was brutally beaten. The 80-year-old — described by son John Yakubec as strong and independent -- died at a Chicago hospital about eight hours after medics were called to his home because of his injuries.

"I was beyond shocked," the younger John Yakubec said. "I was like, 'Maybe they had an altercation. Michael might have accidentally shoved him. I couldn't believe my brother, who had resided at my parents' home his entire life, would do this."

John Yakubec, of Willowbrook, identified his father's body at the Cook County morgue. It was tough, he said, to see the severity of his father's injuries.

During questioning after his arrest, Michael Yakubec refused to talk to investigators about how his father was injured and instead asked for an attorney, court records state.

"I'm just baffled, because I don't know what transpired," the younger John Yakubec said.

He's not sure if his brother has hired an attorney, and he hasn't visited his brother in jail because he's been busy planning for his father's funeral.

"I'm upset and angry that this is even feasible," he said. "He's going to have to make a statement."

The elder Yakubec was tough, but took care of his family at all costs.

"My mom was his everything," he said. 

Joan A. Yakubec died in October 2016 at age 75.

The couple met when the elder Yakubec was a senior in high school. She was several years younger than him. They dated after he graduated and eventually married.

They moved to Alaska for a couple of years, while the elder Yakubec was stationed there during time in the Army. John F. Yakubec attended Purdue University for several years before taking a job as an electrical engineer at LTV Steel, his son said. 

The elder Yakubec was an avid tennis player, participating in tournaments throughout the Chicago area until he was in his mid-60s.

John E. Yakubec said his father used to tell stories about life as a boy in Gary, running around and playing sports.

"Anything south of Ridge Road was considered uncharted territory," he said. "He was like, 'You guys have no idea, because life didn't exist south of Ridge Road.'"

The elder Yakubec enjoyed driving, and the family took several trips each summer, from Florida to New York to Wisconsin Dells. He and his wife also enjoyed picking fruit in Michigan.

"He worked a lot, so my mom was the glue of the family," John E. Yakubec said.

Visitation is scheduled from 2 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Geisen Funeral and Cremation Services, 7905 Broadway, Merrillville.

Additional visitation will start at 9:30 a.m. Friday, before a 10 a.m. funeral Mass at St. Bridget Catholic Church, 107 Main St., Hobart. Burial will follow at Calumet Park Cemetery in Merrillville.


Public Safety Reporter

Sarah covers crime, federal courts and breaking news for The Times. She joined the paper in 2004 after graduating from Purdue University Calumet.