Life Story / Obituary
With a life that spanned times of great change in the world around him, Jim Selmi was an extraordinary man to know and love. He was a hardworking man if ever there was one, but he also knew how to have a good time as well. Jim was a devoted family man who loved spending time with his family, and there was nothing he treasured more than becoming a grandfather a bit later in life. He has been described as a social butterfly who could talk to anyone at any time. Although he will be deeply missed, Jim leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that his loved ones will forever cherish.
The 1930s brought us some of the most trying days we have ever seen as a nation as the entire decade was cloaked by the hardship of the Great Depression. With a soaring unemployment rate and a crippling drought in the nation’s heartland for nearly two years, there were few Americans who didn’t feel the strain. Amidst this eventful time was the year 1938 when Erio and Josephine Selmi were eagerly awaiting the birth of their new baby as winter held the city of Detroit, Michigan, firmly in its grip in January of that year. Their wait was over on January 7th when the baby boy they named James E. made his arrival. He was the third of five children as he joined in older sister, Maureen, Peggy, and his younger brothers, Tim and Tom, in his family. In many ways he was a young boy of his generation. As a student Jim attended local schools including Heely High School in Detroit. He enjoyed cars as a teen and was known to get into his fair share of mischief at times.
As a young man Jim was eager for all that life had in store. He served in the United States Army and spent much of his time in the military driving a refueling truck in Alaska. With his military duties fulfilled, Jim returned home to marry Helen. Jim took under his wing, Kim, Don and Jennifer as his own. He made his career working as a mechanic. Over the years he worked for several dealerships, and he later started working on his own with work for family and friends keeping him quite busy. It was also as a young man that Jim and Helen was blessed again with Jim and Scott. Later on, his family grew to include three grandchildren, Ryan, Sean, and Erin, and they brought him so much joy. Although his marriage later ended, Jim was forever grateful for the blessing of his children and grandchildren.
New and exciting changes were in store for Jim in 1982 when he met Darlene through his brother, Tom. They began dating and soon found themselves deeply in love. With a desire to spend the rest of their lives together, Jim and Darlene were married on December 26, 1996. They were together for the best 34 years of his life.
Throughout his life Jim was a man of many interests. He was a race car driver for 45 years, from 1970 through 2015. Jim worked on his own car, even building his own car - the famous #137 car. He was an accomplished racer as well as he won the street stock national race in both 1981 and 1982. Every February for years, Jim went to Florida to take in all the festivities of the Daytona 500. He so enjoyed sharing these trips with Darlene as well. He was a cat lover through and through. He had several cats of his own at home, and he also cared for strays when needed. Jim just loved visiting the cat clinic as he found spending time with the cats to be a major stress reliever. When relaxing, he loved old movies.
With a fun-loving personality and a zest for life that was truly contagious, James Selmi made life so interesting. He was a laid back, go with the flow kind of guy who loved saying things like, “snooze you lose,” “in a New York minute,” and “pinhead,” among so many more little sayings that perhaps aren’t so appropriate to mention. Jim was a talented man who accomplished so much of which to be proud, yet he was a humble man who loved nothing more than spending time with his family and friends. Dearly loved, he will be forever missed.
James E. Selmi, passed away peacefully April 19. Jim’s family includes his wife, Darlene; children, Kim, Don, Jennifer, James and Scott (Colleen); grandchildren, Ryan, Sean, and Erin; siblings, Tom, Maureen, and Peggy. Jim was preceded in death by his parents, Erio and Josephine, and his brother, Tim. Family will receive friends Friday 2-9pm at Neely-Turowski Funeral Home. A funeral Mass will be held Saturday 10:30am, Instate 10am at St Michael the Archangel Catholic Church. To share a favorite memory and/or photo and to sign the online guestbook, please visit www.turowskilifestory.com