They were getting up in years, but Carl Kuhn and his wife Helen didn't hesitate when tragedy struck the family.
About 21 years ago, a car crash claimed the life of their daughter-in-law, leaving their 2-week-old grandson, also named Carl, without a mother. So the empty-nesters adopted the infant and raised him as their own son.
"You could say little Carl was a great source of pride for my dad," the elder Carl's son Eric said of his nephew. "You could see how proud he was of him."
It was the type of selfless act Eric Kuhn said epitomized his father's love for his family. The elder Carl, 82, died Friday in his home near Bartlett in what authorities say was murder.
Just as intrinsic to Kuhn's life was his love of country. He enlisted in the U.S. Army when he was 18 and served in the European Theater in World War II. He then became a police officer in Glen Ellyn to pay tuition at DePaul University, where he earned both a bachelor's and law degree.
Kuhn went on to practice law for 52 years, family said.
"He was patriotic his whole life," said Eric Kuhn, who moved back in with his father when Helen died a three years ago. "He dedicated much of his time to protecting Second Amendment rights."
Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, said Kuhn was passionate about gun safety. Kuhn served as the group's executive vice president and was a legal adviser and a director for 25 years. He was a trainer, range master, and hunter safety instructor.
"He had an extensive collection of rare firearms," said Pearson, who knew Kuhn for more than 20 years and estimated Kuhn had about 150 guns in his collection.
Kuhn was also chairman for many years of the Fox Valley Area National Rifle Association Committee in Aurora, and volunteered to help with fundraising efforts for the NRA's Three Rivers committee in Joliet. He was the past president of Friends of NRA Banquet.
"He was just an advocate of personal freedom and personal responsibility," said Mike Huber, a senior field representative for the NRA's northern Illinois region. "It's a shame what happened. He was a very kind man, very considerate of other people."
Kuhn also was an avid hunter and member of the Illinois Bar Association, the Knights of Columbus, Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion.
"He had a full life of community service," Pearson said. "It would take five people to replace him, maybe 10. It's a great loss, of course, to us all both personally and professionally."
In addition to Eric and Carl Jr., Kuhn is survived by son Evan.
Visitation for Kuhn will be 3 to 9 p.m. today at Countryside Funeral Home, 950 S. Bartlett Road in Bartlett. A memorial Mass is planned for 10:30 a.m. Thursday at Resurrection Catholic Church, 30W350 Army Trail Road in Wayne.
Kuhn's family has requested the Illinois Patriot Guard Riders to stand in his honor outside the funeral home before visitation begins and at the church before Mass. Following the Mass, the riders will escort his body to his burial site at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood, Ill.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Resurrection Church.