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Life Story / Obituary
One would be hard-pressed to find anyone more genuine than Jim Fredericks. A man of integrity and highly respected within his community, Jim knew the value of hard work and was accomplished in many ways. For those who knew and loved Jim, he will be remembered fondly.
The son of William and Gertrude (VanKampen) Fredericks, James H. Fredericks was born on December 17, 1933, joining his older brother, Bill, and later welcoming his younger sister, Kathy. Noted as the worst year of the Great Depression, the lack of jobs and hard financial uncertainty was evident from coast to coast. Despite these times of struggle during the early years of Jim’s life, America’s thirst for entertainment was a welcome deviation from these times of turmoil.
Born in Albany, New York, James’ family moved to the Kalamazoo area of Michigan during his younger years. As the nation focused its’ efforts on war production, much was being done on the home front which bolstered the economy during World War II. Later in Jim's life, his parents owned and operated the Marathon Market on Shaver Road. Hard working from the start, he had his own newspaper route, and when older he worked as a soda jerk in the Oakwood neighborhood of Kalamazoo. He attended the area schools, and as a teen Jim came to know and fall in love with a young woman named Lois Drake. Married in 1953, they shared the love of two children, Vickie and Bruce.
To support his young family, Jim worked as a sheet metal apprentice until he began serving in the U.S. Army. Nearing his honorable discharge from the service, and rather than accepting an officer's training opportunity with the military, Jim’s great love for working with his hands and with sheet metal prevailed. For a time, he worked at AMS as a sheet metal journeyman before moving on to Miller-Davis. When he met his good friend, Jerry Dent, the two went into business for themselves and began Dent Sheet Metal. With a successful business well underway, Jim moved his family to Vicksburg in the late sixties to be near the shop. He and Jerry also became partners in the Prairie Village Apartment complex.
Although his marriage to Lois ended, Jim was forever grateful for their two wonderful children. In time, Jim tried his hand at love again after meeting Wanda Stevenson. They married in 1976, and after some great years together, Wanda passed away in 2005. Even following her death, Jim continued to love her children, Patty and Cyrus as his own.
Jim was a charming man, respectful, and always had a genuine demeanor. It was what drew people to him, because his word was always his bond. The ladies’ loved Jim and often convinced his daughter into introducing them to him. Before long, Jim became acquainted with one of his sisters, lifelong friends, Bonnee Rainwater. Their marriage brought together two companions, and together they shared great adventures until her passing in 2013.
When it came to family, Jim was unconditional in his love. Everyone loved his wonderful sense of humor, even when he told the same jokes over and over again! Very gifted mechanically, Jim liked customizing things. He was very meticulous, and everything in his garage and shop was in order. When friends or family dropped by for a visit, one only had to look in his garage as he was more often than not tinkering with one of his old cars. He loved his green truck, and anything Jim could do with his hands, including working in the yard, brought him satisfaction.
One of Jim’s favorite pastimes included fishing, especially in Canada. He preferred the sounds of Willie Nelson and John Denver when it came to music, but his all-time favorite tune was, “Last Date” by Floyd Cramer. Cooking on the grill using his temperature fork gave Jim much enjoyment, and he cooked up the best breakfasts. Jim was a man of habit. He could always be found wearing his yellow Polo shirt and his silver/gray Members Only jacket. Promptly at 4 pm, whether on his deck in Vicksburg or his carport in Florida, Jim could be seen enjoying his "big orange".
In later years, Jim began wintering in Florida. He loved spending time there soaking up the sun, making new friends and particularly when his family came to visit. With his never ending love for golf, Jim was in his element. On the last Sunday before passing away, Jim was able to sit and watch golf. It wasn’t the same as playing the game, but it truly made his day. Most recently, Jim started a close relationship with his "lady friend", Philomena “Phil” Lauroesch of Estero, Florida. In the brief time they were able to enjoy their lives together, they did so at every opportunity.
Jim's family was his greatest joy. They spent many memorable occasions together, and he delighted in his ten grandchildren. Making model airplanes with his grandson, Kevin always proved to be a great time. More than anything, Jim was very proud of his family whom he dearly loved. He will be remembered for his genuine kindness, and how he lived with honor and respect. Jim leaves a legacy those who knew him best will forever remember.
James H. Fredericks, of Vicksburg, passed away peacefully at his home, Monday, May 23, 2016, at the age of 82. He is survived by his children, Vickie (Cliff) Fredericks of SC; Cyrus (Sandy) Stevenson of Three Rivers, Patricia (Brian) Corwin of Jackson, Jami (Bartt) Nettleman of Sturgis, and Christine (Randy) Veld of Scotts; ten grandchildren. He is also survived by his sister, Kathy (Mike) Becker of Fulton; his special lady friend, Philomena “Phil” Lauroesch of FL; nieces and nephews. Jim was preceded in death by his son, Bruce Fredericks; brother, Bill Fredericks; and spouses, Wanda Fredericks and Bonnee Rainwater.
Jim’s family will receive friends on Thursday from 3-7 pm at Life Story Funeral Home, 409 S. Main, Vicksburg (269-649-1697) during which time we will be sharing stories and memories. Please visit Jim’s webpage at www.lifestorynet.com where you can sign his online guestbook, share a favorite memory and/or photo. Those that wish may make contributions to Rose Arbor.