James Joseph Mielkus
August 2, 1932 – October 10, 2020
James Joseph Mielkus August 2, 1932 – October 10, 2020 (Age 88)
James (Jim) Joseph Mielkus, a First Generation American, was born in Logan County, Illinois, the son of Joseph J. and Dora R. (Redford) (Morris) Mielkus. Joseph was born in Lithuania on January 6, 1900 and passed in January 1975. Dora was born in England on October 29, 1899 and passed in July 1995. Both were immigrants to the United States where faith brought Joseph and Dora together. Immigrants were sent to live in regions of the United States according to their father’s vocation. In this case, the Mielkus family’s vocation was “Coalmining.”
How can I sum him up? Dad, Grandpa, Pops was a renaissance man! He knew a lot about everything but was an extraordinaire (among many things) in particular regarding carpentry and in his main LOVE….aviation! He has touched so many lives with his ability to teach, tell stories, or to take you on a personal, firsthand adventure. I suspect any of you who have had a personal venture with him will likely never forget the experience. After I sum up his family history, I will share with you a little more family history and a few stories and memories of my own.
Paternal Grandparents: Joseph A. Mielkus: Place of birth-Russia, Lithuania: 3/19/1875 – 4/15/1944 Mary M. (Weilkawieg) Mielkus: Place of birth-Russia: 1878 – 1951 Son: Joseph J. Mielkus: 1/6/1900 – 1/1975 Son: Albert L. Mielkus CPL BTRY B 208 FA BN World War II: 12/18/1912 – 7/30/1970 Infant Daughter: Mary Magdaline Mielkus: 11/7/1916 – 11/9/1916
Maternal Grandparents: John and Frances (Redford) Morris
Maternal Aunt: Gertrude (Redford) (Morris) Simons: 12/3/1909 – 1/5/2001 and husband Walter Simons (passed 1/17/1978) of Lincoln, IL
Siblings: Brother: John (Jack) Anthony Mielkus (passed in 2002) and wife Angela A. of Kimberling, Missouri Their children: Valerie Malinoski, Cathy, Linda, Stephen, and Christine Serrano Sister: JoAnn Young of Lake St. Louis, Missouri Her child: Lori Young Sister: Helen V. Schoendienst (1939) and husband Herman Edward: 12/22/1941-6/29/1999 of Irving, Texas Their children: Dr. Steven P, John A., and Susan Lynn Decker
The Younger Years
Jim graduated from Lincoln High School, Lincoln, IL in 1950. Jim received an athletic scholarship from Iowa State University where he also studied mathematics. Unfortunately, his college years were interrupted by an athletic injury. While attending a “Big Band” event in Des Moines, IA, Jim met Marsha V. Hays and they fell in love. They dated for a lengthy period of time during which Jim enlisted as a cadet in the Air Force. After his time as a cadet in the Air Force, they were finally able to marry in July of 1955 and begin their newlywed life in Charleston, SC. The next place they called home was Lincoln, IL. Then eventually they moved to Kansas City, MO. After the birth of son Michael, Jim completed his Bachelors’ degree at Iowa State University. Jim worked as a carpenter while he and Marsha welcomed two more children. In 1965 they built their new home in Gladstone, MO.
The Kansas City Years
Jim was very successful in the Kansas City construction business. Jim was employed as superintendent for both Eldridge and Sons and J. E. Dunn, two to the most prestigious construction companies in the area. If you know what you’re looking for, Jim’s thumbprint is embedded on some of KC’s most well known buildings. In addition to this, Jim taught the Carpentry Apprenticeship program in Kansas City. This was on Wednesday nights and it was always a treat when he decided we could get BBQ for dinner after his class. Jim was also the superintendent for a well-known K.C. Frank Lloyd Wright home that was built in the early 60’s in Waterworks Hill. This home was originally owned by Frank and Eloise Bott and is known as “The Bott Home.” It is recognized by its “Robin Egg Blue” roof and house trim. In typical Frank Lloyd Wright style, the cantilever balcony of “The Bott Home” expands over the cliffs of Waterworks Hill; making a huge architectural statement. The Bott’s became friends and we were invited over often. Once, the Bott’s even entertained Kathy’s class for a school fieldtrip that included a tour of their beautiful home.
Jim loved fishing, hunting, his bird dogs, and spending time with the family at the Lake of the Ozarks where we owned a lake lot and a beautiful boat. He helped all of his children learn to become proficient water-skiers. If you were interested, he would teach you to fish, or make the best scrambled cheese eggs over an open pit fire for breakfast. He also invented the “Super Duper Pooper Scooper,” which, I at least, was mesmerized by and was manipulated into scooping up dog poop for him. I think it was the name of the contraption that captured me. Silly me!!!!
In the early 70’s, Jim constructed a backyard ice skating rink for his children. This was a hit, not only for his children; but, for the neighborhood children as well. His kids were very popular during this time. HAH!
During Jim’s latest years in Kansas City he spent a great deal of time devoted to aviation. He taught ground school at the downtown airport for a company called “Bakers” and was able to fly recreationally out of Noah’s Ark Airport, north of the river.
As we all experience in life, we may be faced with a fork in the middle of our road, such is the case for Jim and in the early 80’s he moved to Odessa, Texas and worked for Gideon Construction Company.
The Kansas City Family
Wife: Marsha Venice (Hays) Mielkus: 9/23/1932 – 12/4/1992
Wife’s Parents: Mary Kathleen Hays: 10/25/1913 – 1988 and Harold Jasper Hays: 3/11/1911 - 1979 Daughter: Marsha Venice (Hays) Mielkus: 9/23/1932 – 12/4/1992 Son: Harold Wesley Hays US Military: 12/31/1939 – 9/16/1960
Son: Michael Mielkus and wife Karen Children: Timothy Mielkus and wife Leslie Their Children: Cheyenne, Mikayla, Jason, Vanessa Children: Christopher (Scott) Mielkus
Daughter: Lesa Lynn Rowland (Carder) Rowland Children: Ryann Domann and husband Nicholas Their Children: Wesley and Harper Children: Jess Rowland and wife Megan Their Child: Millie Children: Sean Carder and wife Andrea
Daughter: Kathy (Mielkus) Taylor and her husband Phillip Myral Children: Stephanie Walter and husband Christopher Their Children: Allison, Adam, and Evelyn Children: Emily
Texas Years: Lovingly submitted by his “Yellow Rose of Texas”
Jim (Jay) was a man born to fly; he had an unwavering passion for aviation. Within a week of reporting to a new job in West Texas in December 1982, he determined that with the typically warm, mild, and sunshine blue skies of Texas, he could fly every day! Decision made: He would make Texas his home and so it was for the next 37 years.
During these years he accomplished many goals and enjoyed the fulfillment of long held dreams. Perhaps his number one dream was to make aviation his vocation, rather than his avocation. By attending vocational school, he earned his aviation certifications in aircraft Maintenance and Inspection. With much support and encouragement he had already completed his pilot ratings in Kansas City, MO. His twenty-five years as a commercial construction superintendent were over with the completion of the European inspired cathedral Notre Dame Catholic Church in Kerrville, Texas, in 1989. Jay packed away his construction tools and immediately embarked in his aviation career which continued until his retirement in 2007 at age 75. At retirement he was a full professor teaching Aviation Ground School in the Midland College Professional Pilot Program. A natural teacher, Jay gained the reputation of being the most “fun” instructor on campus. In truth, he had more fun than the students, all the while ensuring they were well prepared for their aviation careers. In the years between 1989 and his stint at Midland College beginning in 2001, he had further honed his exceptional marksmanship, studied music, taught aviation maintenance, gave flying lessons, helped build experimental airplanes, flown low and slow inspecting pipelines, attended airshows, had flown through rain clouds and played in the skies. A four week old Schnauzer puppy he named PropWash joined him in the cockpit, co-piloting with him for a number of years. No doubt PropWash was waiting to greet Jay in that bluest of all blue skies.
The years were eventful: Jim (Jay) married Juanita Benton Cagle (J.B.) in 1984. He was invited into her family by her adult sons and daughter, Sam, Kyle and Caye-Ellen. He was the Pied Piper “Jimmie Joe” to the six youngsters: Matt, Jason, Amanda, Casey, Joshua, and Tyler. The Christian teachings of Unity (Daily Word) enriched his spiritual life. Jay felt blessed to have the opportunity of spending five years helping to rejuvenate a Unity ministry. He devoted his time, talents, and treasure to its unfoldment. He presented lessons, sang, planted roses, renovated, and greeted members. His bringing of donuts and bear claws on Sunday mornings was always welcome. The congregants loved him.
Jay spent his retirement years residing in historical Fork Clark Springs, an old army cavalry post developed into a H.O.A. Among its other amenities, it gave him the pleasure of flying his open cockpit Pitenpol from one of, if not the earliest, military hangars in U.S. history. He enjoyed the companionship of fellow pilots, exploring the Fort in his golf cart, and attracting a bird population; he especially related to a red headed wood pecker! The quiet peacefulness of the environment soothed his soul. A special treat was when his daughter Lesa and sons Jess and Sean, and daughter Ryann visited.
When that period of his life closed, “Pops” returned to Kansas City with Lesa, Jess, and Ryann. Lesa cared for him in his senior apartment until that once strong heart was ready to fly in celestial skies. Always one to have the last word, in his final days of slipping away, he thought he was in Texas. And, Lesa held his hands that last day; perhaps he was indeed soaring in the “wild blue yonder” of Texas skies to his final destination. Did he say goodbye to Earth with his trademark dare devil aerobatic barrel roll? More than likely. So long, Valiant Heart.
High Flight by: John Gillespie Magee, Jr.
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings; Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth Of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there, I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung My eager craft through footless halls of air . . .
Up, up the long, delirious burning blue Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings; Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth Of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there, I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung My eager craft through footless halls of air . . .
Up, up the long, delirious burning blue I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace Where never lark, or ever eagle flew — And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod The high untrespassed sanctity of space, Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
Jim’s Faithful Friends: John Rainey (Kansas City, MO) Jack & Claudine Blue (Stockton, MO) Dave & Julie Dotson (Kansas City, MO) Steve & Carol Allen (Hico,Texas)
Invitations to share stories: I invite anyone who visits this website to share your stories and upload any pictures you would like to share. I am sure they will be appreciated, make us laugh, help us to recall our own memories, or cause us to perhaps shed a tear. All is GOOD!
Genealogy Note: During the preparation of this obituary, many details, maiden names, dates of birth and death were accumulated. While they are not present in this obituary, for safety reasons, I would like to make the information available to anyone in the family. If you are interested in this additional information, please email: email@example.com.