William F. James, 84, passed away Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017, at Agrace HospiceCare in Fitchburg, surrounded by his family.
Bill was born Dec. 17, 1932, in Portage, the son of Frederick and Bernice (Behnke) James. He graduated from Portage High School, and served his country as a sergeant in the United States Army in the Korean War. In September 2015, he participated in a Badger Honor Flight with his son, Steve, as his escort. He married Bernadine Ryan at St. Mary of the Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Pardeeville, on Sept. 7, 1957. Bill was a conductor with the Milwaukee Road and Soo Line Railroad for 43 years. As an avid outdoorsman, he enjoyed duck and goose hunting, and was a member of the Portage Rod and Gun Club, as well as being a sponsor and volunteer for Ducks Unlimited. He enjoyed spending time at the family cottage in Pardeeville, and riding his ATV on his land. He was an accomplished curler and a member of the Portage Curling Club. Bill was an avid golfer and was a member of the Portage Country Club. He was a member of the Dr. C.W. Henney Knights of Columbus Council No. 1637 in Portage, and a lifelong member of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. Bill and Bernadine were also accomplished ballroom dancers enjoying many special times on the dance floor.
He is survived by his wife, Bernadine James, of Portage; his children, Susan (Greg) Breen of Madison, and Steven (Natalie) James of Portage; his grandchildren, Jennifer (Barry) McClain of Brookfield, and Jeffrey Breen of Madison; his great-grandchildren, Dean and Paige McClain; his siblings, Mary Schwanz of Portage, Donald James of DeForest and Ann Jankowski of Waukesha. He is further survived by his brothers- and sisters-in-law, many nieces, nephews, cousins and dear friends, as well as his black Labrador hunting partner and companion, Casey. He was preceded in death by his parents.
Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10:30 a.m. Friday, Nov. 10, at St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Portage, with the Rev. Gary Krahenbuhl presiding. Burial will follow in St. Mary Catholic Cemetery, with military honors provided by Portage Area Veterans Honor Guard. Visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 9, at Pflanz Mantey Mendrala Funeral Home in Portage (www.pmmfh.com) and from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Friday at the church.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Columbia County Humane Society or Badger Honor Flight.
Thank you to the staff of Divine Savior Healthcare and Clinic, Portage Clinic, Tivoli and Agrace Hospice.