James R. Kouba, age 80, passed away Sunday, December 25, 2016 at Colfax Health and Rehabilitation.
Jim was born December 31, 1935 at home in the Town of Cooks Valley to James W. and Helen (McVinnie) Kouba, the oldest of five children. He grew up on the family farm where he was taught to work hard, serve God and family, always be honest, keep your word and no matter what life throws at you NEVER give up. Those beliefs proved to be invaluable throughout his life.
He spent the first couple of years of school in a one room schoolhouse near the farm before transferring to Bloomer Public Schools, graduating in 1953. He attended UWEC for one year before enlisting in the Air Force in May of 1954. He maintained airborne electrical navigation equipment on air-refueling tankers before being discharged in 1957. He remained on Inactive Reserves until 1962.
He married Jacquelyn A. Lueck on October 27, 1956 in San Diego, CA. After returning to UWEC, he earned his BS degree while playing Varsity football, helping to raise two young children and working nights. He began his 35 year teaching career at Bloomer High School in 1963 where he taught Freshmen IPS, Physics and Math until his retirement in 1998. He earned his Master’s from U of No. Iowa in 1968. He also found time to coach football and baseball and was an avid reader. He and Jackie endured the loss of two children during their 59 year marriage. He never stopped learning, gaining additional credits in Physics at UW River Falls. Jim was a teacher at heart, not just in the school setting, but also in his daily life. He could never pass up an opportunity to help children of all ages learn the many lessons that life had to offer. He loved to play Bridge, tinker around on his hobby farm during the summer and strongly believed in doing the “right” thing. His greatest joy after retirement was being with his grandsons, watching concerts and plays, sitting at the soccer or baseball field or on the basketball court. He instilled in them the same beliefs his father taught him.
He was the past president of the Bloomer Jaycee’s, a member of the Northwest United Educators, the WI Educators Association and the Nat’l Educators Association. He was the chief negotiator for the NUE and a life time member of St. Paul’s Catholic Church.
After retirement, he spent the remaining years of his life in service to the VFW and American Legion. He was a lifetime member of American Legion Post 295, serving as Post Commander from 2001-03. He was passionate about preserving personal military history for the next generation and honoring those who served our country. He was instrumental in bringing the current Bloomer Veteran’s Memorial to life for all of us to enjoy. He served on the Veteran’s Membership Committee and while serving as Chair achieved 100%+ membership for ten consecutive years. He was also appointed by the President of the US to serve on the Selective Service Committee.
He is survived by his daughters: Jennifer (Larry) Commans of Los Angeles, CA and Dr. Jodi (Todd) Bohl of Elk Mound; daughter-in-law Carol Kouba of Washburn; grandsons: James R. Kouba, III of St. Paul, MN; Robert (Amanda Suchanek) Kouba of St. Paul, MN; Matthew Kouba of Washburn; Brandon and Ryan Bohl of Elk Mound; sisters: Helen Ruf of Chippewa Falls and Lucille (Greg Levine) Kingsbury of Duluth, MN; sister-in-law Jodeen Kouba of Eau Claire; many nieces, nephews, relatives, colleagues and friends.
He is preceded in death by his parents: James W. and Helen J. Kouba; his wife, Jacquelyn; son James R. Jr.; daughter: Jane Kouba; brother: Jerry Kouba; sister Joan Radunz; brother-in-law’s William Ruf and Ken Radunz; niece Rhonda Ruf and nephew Roger Radunz.
A mass of Christian burial with full military honors provided by the American Legion, VFW and AMVETS will be celebrated on Saturday, December 31, 2016 at 10:00 AM at St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Bloomer. Friends may call from 4:00-8:00PM on Friday at the Olson Funeral Home in Bloomer where there will be a Christian Wake Service at 7:30 PM. Online condolences may be expressed at www.olsonfuneralhomebloomer.com.