James Allan Straub

February 13, 1946July 26, 2020

James “Jim” Allan Straub was born in Grand Rapids on February 13, 1946 and passed away peacefully on July 26, 2020, lovingly surrounded by his family. He was the beloved husband of Gail for 50 years. In addition to Gail, Jim is also survived by his daughters, Maureen Anne (Dan) Dolan, Jill Suzanne Straub, and Kathryn Mary (Jay) Friend; grandchildren, Brendan and Jenna Dolan, and Niklaus and Adeline Friend; siblings and in-laws, Pat (Sam) Fessenden, Nancy (John) Myszka, Linda (Larry) Olson, Rick (Mary) Straub, Jim and Nancy Symko, Phil and Sharon Symko, Jane Symko and many neices, nephews, and cousins.

Jim was preceded in death by his mother, Arlene (Kohn), and father, Irwin Straub; brother, Chris Straub; and brother-in-law, Tom Symko.

Jim’s proudest accomplishments were his family, and serving in the United States Marine Corps, including a 13-month tour of duty in Vietnam. His list of achievements include 27 years as Detective Lieutenant from the Kent County Sheriff's Department, Original Catalogue Director of the Mathias Alten Catalogue Raisonne, and providing significant contributions to the book, Mathias Alten: Journey of an American Painter. Jim was honored to have been appointed by Gov. Milliken to the Board of Forensic Polygraph Examiners and by the GR mayor to the GR Historical Commission. Additionally, Jim served as President of the Command Officers Bargaining Unit at the Kent County Sheriff's Department and Vice President of the GR Historical Society. He was also a member of the Board of Kent County Employees Credit Union, the Kent County Pension Board, the Art Advisory Committee for Butterworth Hospital, the Acquisitions Committee at the GR Art Museum, the GVSU Gordon Gallery Advisory Committee, and the Collections Committee at the GR Public Museum, as well as a volunteer researcher at the GR Public Museum.

In addition to his many accomplishments, Jim had a special gift for writing poetry and storytelling. He could tell stories like no other, which were often tinged with humor and wit.

Memorial donations may be made to the GVSU "Anita M. Gilleo Endowment for the Mathias J. Alten Catalogue Raisonne" ( or the Grand Rapids Public Museum. A private burial service will occur on August 13, 2020. Following the burial, friends may join in a celebration of Jim’s life at 2:00pm at Palmer Park on 1275 52nd St. in Wyoming. Masks and social distancing will be required.


James Allan Straub

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Dave Trzybinski

August 6, 2020

Jim was a very good friend. We met for many early breakfasts and always had a good time. We laughed a lot and I was always eager to share a new joke, as was he. Jim, being a Marine, ordered the blackest coffee and burnt toast.
I will miss Jim a lot and offer my sincere sympathy and prayers to Gail and Jill and the entire family.

See ya later buddy,

Katie Baker

August 5, 2020

I met Jim in 2006 when I started working for a local art gallery. I was always impressed with his knowledge, passion for art and Alten. We reconnected in the last few years and I am so grateful to have had that time to learn from him. I'm so sorry to hear of his passing and send my condolences to his family.

Joel Zwart

August 5, 2020

I've known Jim for a number of years, and always looked forward to our conversations. In addition to his extensive knowledge and love for Mathias Alten, he often surprised me with a story or comment about another work of art or historical event. Sometimes he'd muse about a painting that "got away" from him, or a "great find" that he discovered. Jim was inquisitive, gracious, good natured, and humorous. I will miss him. My condolences to Gail and the Straub family.

Nathan Kemler

August 4, 2020

I first met Jim over coffee at Common Ground to talk about Mathias Alten. That was over 12 years ago. He was a man of great integrity and intellect and was also very humble and generous. We talked about Alten a lot but also art, culture, history, social issues, and civic engagement - always through a perfect balance of straight talk and humor. Jim communicated often by story-telling and his wit was always on full display. He was one of the outstanding examples in my life of what living with passion and honesty looks like. I will miss him greatly and my deepest condolences to Gail, Maureen, Jill, Katy, and the rest of his family and friends.

Jo Muszkiewicz

August 4, 2020

Gail, You and Jim and your girls were our wonderful neighbors on Camille. I've thought of you often over the years. One of my favorite memories is our Border Collie, McKenna, playing basketball with Jill. Prayers are being said for you and your family.

Pam & Ron VanDyke

August 4, 2020

Dear Gail & Family,
We were so sorry to hear of Jim’s passing.
We are keeping all of you in our prayers.
Ron & Pam VanDyke

Peter Walsh

August 4, 2020

So sorry to hear of the family's loss. I worked with Jim many times over the years when he was with KCSD and later. It was always a pleasure.

Carol Cordes

August 3, 2020

Jim was a favorite friend with whom I loved to have conversations
about art, poetry, and life.

John F & M Suzanne Kowalski

August 3, 2020

Gail, we are so sorry to hear of Jim’s passing. We are thinking of you, the girls, and their families, and remembering all of you in our prayers. May you find peace and comfort in your time of sorrow.
Love, John & Sue

Laura Kurtycz (Kowalski)

August 3, 2020

To the Straub family,
I’m so sad for the loss of your husband/dad. Even as an adult, while employing his poly services, he was annoyed that I still referred to him as “Mr. Straub.” No matter my age, I couldn’t address that commanding presence any other way. Thinking of you and your family during this time of loss.