Life Story / Obituary
Always willing to help others in ways both great and small, James “Red” Jenkins was a true blessing to those who were within his reach.
By the year 1944, it had been over two years since our nation entered into WWII, and as a nation we were dealing with rationing on common goods, manufacturing that was centered on supporting the war effort, and victory gardens that were lessening the demand on the nation’s food supply. It was on February 29th of this year that Ike and Opha (Barker) Jenkins were blessed with the birth of the son they named James Henry in Sikeston, Missouri. He was the fifth of eight children in his family and was raised alongside his four brothers, Bill, Charles, David, and Carroll Dean, and three sisters, Elizabeth, Alice, and Brenda. James came to be known as “Red” because of his red hair.
Although born in Missouri, Red moved to Raymondville and Falfurrias, both in Texas, with his family. Red worked on a farm owned by his cousin Joyce and her husband E.L., picking cotton, watermelon, and tomatoes. He additionally helped in the raising of 3500 chickens. It was also during this time that E.L. taught Red how to use a rifle to hunt rabbit and squirrel. He developed a love for fishing that would remain with him throughout his entire adult life after spending countless hours fishing with his Dad and Uncle Grover.
When he was 18, Red moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with his brother, David, and his wife, Carole. He found work at the Heiser Ford Dealership and Holsum Foods. Red purchased his first car, a 1964 Ford Fairlane High Performance, that was his pride and joy.
In 1966 Jim agreed to a blind date with a young girl named Carol Zinda, and sparks flew from that first night at the movies. Deeply in love, they were married on August 16, 1969, at St. Hedwig Catholic Church in Milwaukee. Jim and Carol truly enjoyed each other’s company whether they were fishing, attending community events, fire department fundraisers, church festivals, or taking a Sunday afternoon drive.
Red made a career working for the Milwaukee Road Railroad. Throughout his more than 30 years of service, it changed names a few times, but when he retired as a storekeeper in the year 2000 it was called Canadian Pacific.
A man of many interests, Jim was one to be busy. As a serious fisherman he cherished the fishing trips to the Wisconsin River with his best friends, Buck and Willie. Red also enjoyed spring and autumn trips to fish the Brule River with friends Chuck, Marty, Mike, and Gordie. In 2008 he and his wife bought a cabin in Crivitz, Wisconsin, where they planned to retire. His cat, Budd, was a treasured companion that shared Red’s morning routine.
Despite being quiet, James “Red” Jenkins was quick with a quip and was more than happy to help anyone with anything he could. He spent the majority of his journey alongside his true love with whom he experienced so many of the best things that life has to offer. Red will be deeply missed by his friends and loved ones.