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James M. “Jim” Vale, 78, Columbus, formerly of Madison, died Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019, at Home Again in Columbus.

Jim lived his life to the fullest, with a love for entertaining friends and family, and making the best old fashioned cocktail. Jim was born Feb. 18, 1940, in Madison, to Celius “CJ” and Eva Vale. He grew up on a farm in Cottage Grove with his sisters Sue and Sally, attended Hope Lutheran Church and graduated from Madison East High School in 1959. He was in the Air National Guard and worked at Truax Airfield as a mechanic. Jim met his wife Judy at the Edwards Park Dance Hall and they were married July 3, 1965. In 1966, Jim joined American Family Insurance and was an agent in Columbus for 38 years until his retirement. Jim will be remembered as a caring and respected businessman to the many clients he served. He was active in the Columbus community and was one of the founding members of the Columbus Jaycees. He belonged to Columbus United Methodist Church and the Masonic Lodge (F&AM 75) where he served as master in the 1980s. Jim was married to Judy for 53 years, and together they provided endless encouragement, advice and wisdom to their three kids, Jennifer, Joe and Jason. Jim enjoyed traveling with family and friends, fishing and deer hunting, and telling his grandkids to “shape up.” He loved summers at their northwoods cabin, pontoon boat rides and blueberry pancakes. His other great passion was the University of Wisconsin Badgers. He was a football season ticket holder for more than 40 years, an attendee of three Rose Bowls, and the family leader of road trips following the marching band.

Jim is survived by his wife, Judy; children, Jennifer and her husband Nathan Hansen, Joe (Missy), Jason (Kristen); grandchildren, Jack, James, Stella, Jude and Parker; sisters, Susan (Evan) Steiner and Sally Smith; other relatives and many friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents.

A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, Jan. 7, at Columbus United Methodist Church in Columbus. The Rev. Kimberly Brumm will officiate. Visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 6, at Jensen Funeral & Cremation in Columbus and from 10 a.m. until the hour of service at the church on Monday.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Columbus United Methodist Church or Columbus Community Hospital Foundation.

Jensen Funeral & Cremation, Columbus, is serving the family. Visit

Follow Kelly Simon on Twitter @KSchmidSimon or contact her at 920-356-6757.


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