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James, age 90, of Stillwater, MN and Sun City West, AZ, left us on September 22, 2020 to join his beloved wife, Annella (Nell), in heaven after a lengthy battle with Parkinson’s Disease.
He is survived by a loving family; three children, Lizabeth (Kim) Erickson, Toby (Debi) Seiberlich, Angie (Bruce Kammen) Seiberlich; three grandchildren, Chris (Christine) Erickson, Jessica (Ben) Cattoor, Kelly Seiberlich; and five great grand-daughters; Ellie, Evelyn and Mabel Cattoorand Madeline and Harper Erickson. In addition, Jim leaves behind special caregivers that he enjoyed a close bond with, notably Beth, Wayne, Tony, Feysal, Joe, Shirley and Strawberry. His family is very grateful for the love they showed Jim while he was isolated due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jim was born January 8, 1930 to Joseph and Louise (Paganine) Seiberlich in Chicago, IL. He was raised in Stillwater and spent most of his life in the Twin Cities area.
After graduating from Stillwater High School, Jim joined the Stillwater Army National Guard and was called to Active Duty during the Korean War. He returned as the Company Commander and was again activated for the Stillwater Flood of 1965. Jim retired as a Major with numerous awards and decorations, to include the Bronze Star, after 20 years of military service.
Days after his return from the Korean War, Jim was at Happy’s Harbor Restaurant in Stillwater where he met the love of his life and ultimately his wife of 62 years, Annella Holmes. They moved to Maplewood, MN, where they raised three children. They were very involved with their children in activities that included camping, traveling, site seeing, cross country skiing, hunting and going to the “lake.” During this time, Jim began a 30-year career in the Paint and Coatings industry. He initially joined the accounting department at Minnesota Paints. Due to his demand for excellence and work ethic, he was promoted numerous times and ultimately retired as Executive Vice President of the Valspar Paint Corporation. During his tenure at Valspar he was an integral part in the many acquisitions which enabled Valspar to become a leader in the paint and resin industry. In addition, Jim was a member of the Board of Directors of United Healthcare and he was very active in the Rotary Club. He retired during the Great Halloween Snowstorm of 1991. The snowstorm was so bad that he actually missed his last day of work, one of the few days he missed during his entire career. Jim and Nell moved to Arizona, where they spent the next 25 years basking in the sun and seeing the world before returning to Stillwater full-time.
Jim and Nell travelled extensively during their time in Arizona. They went on several trips to Europe and Asia, they went camping for a summer in Alaska, and they even went on an excursion to the North and South Pole. Summers meant taking their older grandchildren on memorable trips across the country, and autumn meant hunting trips with his sons and grandsons. Not to be outdone, Nell took her daughters on cattle drives. When they were home, Jim was an avid volunteer with the Sun City West Prides, where he helped trim trees and bushes and kept the public areas spruced up, and with Habitat for Humanity, where he used his handyman skills to build and remodel houses. You could also find Jim volunteering at various soup kitchens helping feed the poor and homeless. He built “Nell’s Kitchen” in Surprise, AZ to honor Nell’s love for cooking and to help those in need.
Jim’s philanthropy knew no bounds. As a veteran himself, he had a great love for his country and for other veterans. He flew a flag every day, and believed strongly in the military members and their families. He graciously contributed to the building of specialized homes to accommodate wounded veterans through Homes for Our Troops. He contributed to Fisher House and several other veteran aid groups. Jim and Nell also had a soft spot for women and children who needed a hand up. He helped fund the New Life Center, the largest domestic violence shelter in Arizona, and provided them with a playground on the campus for the children. He also contributed to Options for Women in Stillwater, and to St. Michael’s sister church in Africa for a maternity hospital. Jim and Nell were very active church members and donated to the churches they attended. Jim was very humble and did not seek recognition for any of his philanthropic endeavors and preferred to observe the fruits of his endeavors from afar. Jim did not let his Parkinson’s diagnosis slow him down. He was an extremely active person who was a lifelong fitness enthusiast. He could be seen walking everyday while picking up trash along the way. Even being struck by a car did not dampen his desire to walk and exercise. He enjoyed the camaraderie and coaching he received from Boutwell’s Wellness Center.
In addition to being a loving family man, military veteran, successful businessman, and philanthropist, Jim touched countless people with his wisdom, humor, and mentorship. He had an uncanny ability of making others feel special and capable, which inspired them to achieve more and grow into their potential. He set very high standards for himself and those he cared about. He was a believer in hard work, a great education, and a great sense of humor. He loved a good practical joke, and a good beer. He did all this with the ever-present twinkle in his eye! It is hard to say good-bye to a man who was larger than life, full of love and compassion for others, and who was a lot of fun to be with. Knowing he is going to be reunited with his great love, Nell, makes it a little easier to say goodbye.
Mass of Christian Burial will be at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, October 21, 2020 at the Church of Saint Michael, 611 3rd St. S., Stillwater, MN 55082, the public may begin arriving at 10:30 a.m. Masks are required for the safety and courtesy of all who wish to pay their respects. The Mass will also be livestreamed on the Church of St. Michael Stillwater, MN Facebook page. Private family interment will follow at Ft. Snelling National Cemetery with full military honors. In lieu of flowers, donations are preferred to the Pillars Hospice Care in Oakdale, MN, Boutwell Senior Living in Stillwater, MN, and the Parkinson’s Foundation. A special thank you from Jim’s family to the Pillars and Boutwell’s Landing for the exceptional care they provided our dad.