James Paul Engelson
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8 April 1943 – 29 June 2020
James Paul Engelson first saw the light of day on April 8th, 1943 in Hillsdale, Michigan, the 2nd child of Orin L. Engelson and Janet Marie (Pofahl). He joined a brother, William, born two years earlier. His Dad worked at the local steel plant supporting the war effort. That was not sufficient in his father’s mind and he enlisted in the US Army in mid-July 1944. The rest of our family moved to Kenosha, WI to wait out the remainder of the war. When his dad came back safely from Europe, the family moved to Washington Island, WI, which the Engelson family had called home since 1894. That was the year Jim’s Norwegian immigrant great- grandparents had settled on a 40-acre property overlooking the waters of Green Bay. Jim’s dad was the rural mail carrier, carpenter, electrician and worked for the Ferry Line, as well. William and Jim’s sister, Marilee, arrived on the Island in 1947.
Jim started first grade at the Island school in the fall of 1950, and in the middle of 2nd grade in early 1952, the Engelson family moved back to Kenosha where Jim attended Hannan School and later, Washington Jr. High. He graduated from Mary D. Bradford High in 1961.
The larger Engelson family was very tight-knit and summers found Jim, his siblings, and his cousins on Washington Island at Sunset Resort, owned and operated at that time, by his grandparents. His heart was firmly anchored to the Resort and he returned frequently over the years to re-engage with his cousins, aunts, uncles and numerous friends over the years. Gifted with a warm and engaging personality, an unforgettable laugh, and heart-felt smile, Jim easily made friends and carefully nurtured them into life-long relationships.
Jim was no match for the charms of Kathleen Jane Cliver and they were joined in matrimony on August 1, 1964. Jim and Kathy are dedicated, faithful Christians who’ve been active in the church over the ensuing years. They raised their daughters within the church thus perpetuating a strong Christian faith within their family.
The Engelson family has a history of service to our country starting early in the 20th century and spanning five generations to the current day. Jim joined the US Army and served a combat tour in Viet Nam, thankfully coming home safe and sound, and proud to have done his part for the country he dearly loved. It later turned out that his exposure to the exfoliant Agent Orange in Viet Nam manifested itself in several physical challenges, but Jim stoically bore those issues with never a complaining word. He was an active member of the American Legion as well as the VFW. Jim enjoyed the experience of a life-time when he was selected for the Never Forgotten Honor Flight trip to Washington, DC a few years ago in recognition of his service and the tribute of a grateful nation. His return home from the flight made the front page of the local paper.
Jim and Kathy had three wonderful daughters together. Becky Leigh was born in 1968; Dena Sue in 1970; and Jill Ann in 1971. Jim was the exemplary family man, lovingly doting upon and bragging on his kids and grandkids.
Jim’s father died in 1996 in Florida and his Mom came back to Kenosha to live. Sister Marilee was nearby and watched over her and helped Mom with her affairs. When Mom began to show signs of dementia and needed additional care and nursing, Jim stepped up and had her moved to facilities in Stevens Point and later to Mosinee. Both generous and caring, Jim took over the management of Mom’s financial and legal responsibilities and oversaw her nursing care as Mom descended into the abyss of Alzheimer’s disease, finally succumbing to old age, dying just three months ago in Mosinee. Jim and Kathy were very caring and attentive during Mom’s later years and the entire family is proud of and thankful for their nurturing efforts.
Jim enjoyed many activities and hobbies throughout his life. Fall hunting trips served as a perfect opportunity to strengthen the bonds between Jim and family members who joined him. It was never about the hunting. The same could be said of his fishing trips, Brewer games, and he especially enjoyed playing golf. He has left us with fond memories of the many rounds he’s played with his brother, uncle, cousins, nieces, nephews and grandchildren over the years. Most of us will forever say a prayer for Jim and his family on the first tee and hope to keep the ball in the fairway.
On the 29th of June, Jim left this planet suddenly and unexpectedly, peacefully passing in his sleep and following the light into the gates of heaven where we are comforted in knowing he’s with his loving Savior Jesus, parents, other relatives, and his many friends who preceded him.
Jim superbly filled many roles in our lives as son, brother, cousin, husband, father, uncle, grandfather and friend and his absence leaves a sorrowful gap in the ranks of our family and his large group of friends. Hopefully, we’ll endeavor to fill that gap with his loving spirit and the wonderful memories we have of him. We all are encouraged by our faith that we will see him again while he patiently waits for us. He will greet us with that laugh, that smile, and we’ll know we are home.
Jim leaves behind the love of his life Kathy; their three girls; Becky (Bob) Ryals, Dena (Corey) Kane and Jill (Dennis) Bertolotti; and five adored grandchildren, Josh, Rachel, Anna, Ellis and Jenna. Also surviving are his brother Willie (Donna); sister Marilee; a large Engelson/Cliver family of siblings, cousins, nieces, and nephews; and a multitude of friends he’s collected over the years. We all mourn his passing and will miss him terribly.
Godspeed Jim and rest in the eternal peace of your Savior’s arms. Well done good and faithful servant.
Memorials in Jim’s name may be sent to Northland Lutheran High School, 2107 Tower Road, Kronenwetter, WI 54455 and Mountain of the Lord Lutheran Church, 5506 Bittersweet Road, Wausau, WI 54401.
The family will receive friends from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Friday, July 3, 2020, at Mountain of the Lord Lutheran Church, Wausau. A private family service will follow and can be live-streamed at Mountain of the Lord Evangelical Lutheran Church Facebook page. Online condolences may be made at www.bestefh.com