OBITUARY

James Leslie Bixler

April 8, 1930November 9, 2021
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James Leslie Bixler, age 91, of Ann Arbor peacefully passed into his heavenly home on November 9, 2021 at his residence surrounded by his family.

Jim was born on April 8, 1930 in Orrville, Ohio to Allen & Ellen Bixler. Jim is survived by his wife of 65 years June Bixler; daughters Caroline Bixler and Ingrid Stoltzfus (Barry); his twin brother John of Iowa City, IA; his grandchildren Drew, Leah and Bradley. Jim was preceded in death by his son Grant Bixler; his father Allen Bixler and his mother Ellen Bixler and brother Robert Bixler.

Jim grew up in Kidron, Ohio and attended Kidron Elementary School and Dalton High School where he was on the football team, as well as singing in the choir and playing in the band and orchestra. After High school Jim continued his education and graduated from Goshen College in 1952 with a degree in music. He then went as a conscientious objector to Germany to serve on a construction crew in the PAX program from 1952-1954 to help rebuild the homes and farms of German Mennonite refugees that were destroyed in WWII.

Upon return from Germany he became reacquainted with June Gerber, whom he knew his whole life from their home community in Kidron, Ohio, and they married on September 9, 1956 and moved to Ann Arbor in 1960 for Jim to continue studying French horn at the University of Michigan.

He was offered a job by the University to record lessons by foreign language professors, and remained at the University, in the Modern Language Building, for 34 years with a recording studio, and assisting the University evolve with the ever-changing audio and video needs through the decades, a job he took great joy in. He was an excellent technician with a skilled ear and eye for all things audio/video, and enjoyed being a resource to many in this capacity.

Jim sang in many choirs over the years, as well as a quartet with his twin brother John, and two cousins Don and Mahlon, for over 50 years. He collected classical music records and spent many hours, with audio technical expertise, listening to and enjoying his favorite music. He was an avid bird and butterfly lover, planting a garden that would attract all pollinators, delighting in their arrival. He was a passionate railfan and train enthusiast all his life, and was a member of the Ann Arbor Model Railroad Club for many years, a hobby he enjoyed very much with his son, Grant. Photography was another passion, and spent long afternoons developing his own photographs in the basement for many years. After retirement, Jim found joy in cooking, finding recipes and preparing food for him and June. He and June enjoyed traveling to various European locations, including France, Switzerland, Greece and Germany, visiting some old PAX sites he helped to re-establish in the 1950’s. He loved sports and was a little league coach for several years in Ann Arbor. He was a dedicated Tigers, Lions and Wolverine fan, rarely missing a game.

Jim was also a member of First Presbyterian Church of Ann Arbor since 1983, singing in the choir and traveling to Haiti as part of mission trips there.

A burial of ashes for Jim will be held Tuesday, November 16, 2021 from 1:30 PM to 2:00 PM at First Presbyterian Church, 1432 Washtenaw Ave, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104, followed by a memorial service from 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to First Presbyterian Church Local Missions. Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.muehligannarbor.com for the Bixler family.

Services

  • Burial of Ashes

    Tuesday, November 16, 2021

  • Funeral Service

    Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Memories

James Leslie Bixler

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Delbert Lehman

November 25, 2021

Hi June, Ingrid and Caroline
My earliest memory of Jim is riding with him in a truck when he worked for L E Sommer feed mill. I was probably 7 or 8 years old.
After Jim and June moved to Ann Arbor MI in 1960 I always
enjoyed the trips from Kidron to Ann Arbor to visit Jim and June
and their family. When Jim and June and their children came to
Kidron that was an exciting experience also. I remember several times when I was on a truck trip into Michigan that I would call Jim and June and meet them at the Harvest Moon Cafe near Ann Arbor or the Big Boy restaurant in Milan, Michigan. I always enjoyed talking with Jim. I will miss him.

Ton Broos

November 16, 2021

I have the most wonderful memories of Jim in his office and recording studio in the Modern Languages Building, where we laughed a lot, shared experiences and tried to make the world a better place by communicating better. Jim was my mentor and instructor when I needed help for my teaching of Dutch from 1982 until he retired. His expertise of cameras, recording and sound equipment was the best, and he was always ready to help with recording or taping, Dutch radio programs and lots of music. Most of all he was the most helpful, cheerful, wonderful person to be around. Thank you very much, Jim. Ton Broos

Lowell Gerber

November 15, 2021

When I was in elementary school, Jim took me to Wooster College to take French Horn lessons from a student there. Jim paid for the lessons and I used his French horn. But I didn't practice like I should have and the lessons ended. How I regret that today! I did play French Horn in elementary school and high school.
In the early 1970s, Jim took me to a camera shop where on Jim's advice I bought a good Minolta camera. I used the camera often in taking scenery pictures and other photos when I lived in Idaho and British Columbia and other places.
At our Sommer cousin's reunions, all of us took great delight in hearing the adventures of Jim and John as twin brothers.

Ramona Bashshur

November 15, 2021

Viewing your wonderful family photos takes me back to the 1970s. So many fond memories of being at your home, when Ingrid and I were in high school. There was always love and laughter, whether it was about music, model trains, or sports. Time has never erased these memories. Ingrid, Caroline, and June, you are in my thoughts and in my heart.

Robert Bixler

November 13, 2021

As a youngster, I recall going with Uncle Jim in an L.E. Sommer Feed Mill truck to transport salt from the Morton Salt Co. facility in Rittman, OH back to Kidron. I had a very enjoyable time with him that day. Later, in adult years, I remember times with him in the darkroom in his basement or out photographing trains. Much later, he wrote about going to Kidron and doing video interviews with residents in that community.

RIP, in Uncle Jim, and enjoy your reunion with your parents and brother, my father!

Ken Stockton

November 11, 2021

We offer our deepest condolences to the Bixler family at this time of loss. My wife and I (and our 3 kids) lived just across the street from the Bixlers in Ann Arbor for decades. They will forever be in our hearts and minds as the best neighbors we have ever had -- caring, helpful, humble, committed to helping the less fortunate, and so much more. Jim was an awesome human being, and truly a gift to all who knew him and loved him -- sweet, kind, humble, smart, inclusive of others...For us, the fond memories of Jim for all the Sweeney-Stocktons will be with us forever..

FROM THE FAMILY

Jim captioned this picture:
"Grant Bixler, age 4, Bellows Falls, Vermont 1967. Nickel Plate locomotive. A Berkshire 2-8-4 at Steamtown. Picture taken with our Rolleiflex camera enlarged and printed by George Fisher"

FROM THE FAMILY

June and Ingrid at Bellows Falls Vermont 1967, vacation to Steamtown

FROM THE FAMILY

Bixler Family 1961 - Jim in the middle holding infant Ingrid with June just in front of him to his right, twin brother John's family to their right, with parents Allen and Ellen, and older brother Robert and his family to their left

FROM THE FAMILY

Infant twins 1930

FROM THE FAMILY

Jim captioned this picture:
"Grant Bixler, age 4, Bellows Falls, Vermont 1967. Nickel Plate locomotive. A Berkshire 2-8-4 at Steamtown. Picture taken with our Rolleiflex camera enlarged and printed by George Fisher"

FROM THE FAMILY

June and Ingrid at Bellows Falls Vermont 1967, vacation to Steamtown

FROM THE FAMILY

Bixler Family 1961 - Jim in the middle holding infant Ingrid with June just in front of him to his right, twin brother John's family to their right, with parents Allen and Ellen, and older brother Robert and his family to their left

FROM THE FAMILY

Infant twins 1930

FROM THE FAMILY

Jim, third from left, visiting the family home in Kidron

FROM THE FAMILY

Jim's childhood home in Kidron, Ohio

FROM THE FAMILY

Jim's parents Allen and Ellen

FROM THE FAMILY

Jim's high school senior photo, 1948

FROM THE FAMILY

Bixler family photo, Jim, June, Ingrid and Grant to far left

FROM THE FAMILY

Jim with cousins