James Walter (Jim) Fleming of Hazelhurst, passed away on Wed, Feb 16 after an extended battle with cancer. He died quietly at home, with his wife of 38 years beside him.
Jim was born in Manhattan, NY on Aug 16, 1946. He and his parents, James and Muriel Fleming, along with his two younger sisters lived in Wychoff, NJ, where Jim was active in Explorer scouts and was able to travel a lot for canoeing and back packing. He continued backpacking in California and Colorado into his adult life.
When Jim graduated from high school, he joined the Sea Bees~ the construction battalion of the Navy. He had two tours of duty in Vietnam between 1968 and 1972. After Vietnam, he joined a buddy from the service to pursue a trade in the petroleum industry in the Milwaukee, WI area. Jim became a member of the local Steamfitters Union 601. He excelled in the petroleum industry and became a journeyman pipe fitter, helping to build scores of gas stations across Wisconsin and Michigan.
In 1982, he met Vicki McBeth at Elmbrook Church in Waukesha, WI. They were married in 1984 and went on to build a home in Hartland, WI where they lived for ten years. Their son James and daughter Elisabeth were born in Hartland.
In 1995, with the petroleum industry changing, Jim and Vicki moved their family to Lake Tomahawk to pursue installations of gas tanks in marinas, camps, and resorts. After installing a gas pump at Fort Wilderness in McNaughton, Jim was asked to come on staff at Fort for operations. For the next 22 years, Jim installed and maintained mechanicals in over 40 buildings as the camp grew larger. He maintained the mechanical facilities in all the buildings, as well as underground piping, sewer and water pumps. He also helped build the cabins at the Outpost camp that resembled those he had helped build in Vietnam. Jim spent many happy years at Fort Wilderness installing and maintaining the buildings and grounds, including his passion for landscaping. He ran the backhoe, skid loader, and was happiest while driving the military deuce, filled with singing and laughing campers.
He loved raising his kids at camp, and loved the skills and lifelong friends they made there. He was happy that they swam, skied, kayaked, and back packed. They rode and worked with horses and learned to back up loaded canoe trailers. He loved this life for them and for he and his wife. Jim enjoyed cross country skiing and sitting by the fire with his beloved golden retriever. In later years, as he neared retirement, he enjoyed traveling with his wife to St George Island, FL sometime each spring.
Jim was a man of strong faith, and enjoyed membership, along with his family, at Faith Evangelical Church, in Woodruff. Covid kept him home and chemo knocked him low, and yet he was online with the services every week, right up to last Sunday, where he was in home hospice.
Jim is survived by his wife of 38 years, Vicki, his son James, and daughter in law Kara (DiPietro) of Minocqua, as well as his daughter, Elisabeth (Matthews) and her husband Ryan Matthews of Bayfield, WI. Jim leaves behind 4 beloved grandchildren, with one more on the way any day. Jim built doll houses and toy barns for his grandchildren, and thrilled them with rides in the Jeep Willys.
Jim is also survived by his sister Bev Smith and her husband, Don Smith, of West Bend, and his sister Jane Hitchcoff and her husband, Dave Hitchcoff, of Franklin Lakes, NJ. Jim is also survived by loving nieces and nephews, and Vicki’s mom, Jane McBeth, of Arbor Vitae.
The people who knew Jim have all spoken of him as a man of integrity and grace, with a generous and gentle heart, and a compassionate spirit. He will be missed so very much.
A celebration of Jim’s life is planned for noon on Sunday, April 3, at Faith Evangelical Free Church of Woodruff, with a luncheon to follow. Please make any cash donations to the scholarship fund at Fort Wilderness, or the Lakeland area food pantry.
The family wishes to thank the excellent oncology department at Marshfield clinic, the nurses at Compassus Hospice, and Nimsgern Funeral Home. You have all been so kind and helpful during this difficult time.
Online condolences may be shared at nimsgernfuneral.com
NIMSGERN FUNERAL & CREMATION SERVICES IS SERVING THE FAMILY.