James M. Staker

September 21, 1923March 27, 2013

James (Jim) M. Staker, 89, of Kansas City, passed away peacefully on March 27, 2013 surrounded by his family. The visitation will be at Mt. Moriah & Freeman Funeral Home, 10507 Holmes Rd., Kansas City, MO 64131 on Saturday, March 30, 2013 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. followed by a memorial service at 11:00 a.m. There will be a private burial with full military honors at the Leavenworth National Cemetery in Leavenworth, Kansas where he will be laid to rest with his wife, Helen. Jim was born in Kansas City, Missouri, the son of Fred and Blanche Staker. He was preceded in death in 2012 by his “bride” of 70 years Helen S. Staker and by his parents and his sister, Dorothy Smith Jim attended Southwest High School and the University of Kansas where he joined Phi Gamma Delta fraternity. He joined the U.S. Navy, and became an officer and a torpedo bomber pilot. His squadron was assigned to the U.S.S. Wasp, an aircraft carrier. He saw heavy action in the Pacific during World War II. He was severely burned when his plane was hit during an enemy attack. He fought fires aboard the U.S.S. Wasp until someone noticed he was severely burned and hospitalized him. He spent a year in military hospitals recovering. He was awarded the Silver Star, the Purple Heart and received 3 service ribbons. His brush with death impacted the rest of his life. He was a very positive person with a wonderful sense of humor. In his last few years of life, he often reflected how lucky he was to have survived WWII and to have lived this long. After WWII Jim and Helen moved to Kansas City where Jim joined Pacific Airmotive Corporation (PAC) as a technical salesman of aircraft parts to airlines. He later opened a branch in Denver, where Jim, Helen and their two sons lived for ten years. He enjoyed hiking and camping in the Rockies and being Scoutmaster of Troop 256 sponsored by Cherry Hills grade school. Jim and his family returned to Kansas City in the 1960s with PAC. Jim later purchased a Western Auto store in downtown North Kansas City that fulfilled his dream of one day owning a hardware store. Some years later he sold the store and joined Swan Engineering of Kansas City as a technical salesman. Prior to retiring from Swan he started J.M. Staker Company making small quantities of specialized metal and nylon repair parts for various regional manufacturing companies. He enjoyed “making parts” and did so until he was 85. He was an excellent athlete. In high school, he was a star running back on the Southwest football team, in his 60s he canoed and jumped off rope swings into rivers with his sons and grandsons, and until he was 80 he played volleyball in a volleyball league. He was devoted to his wife, Helen, and in their later years they enjoyed gardening and the simple pleasures of having coffee and donuts while bird watching in their back yard. Jim is survived by his sons, Rodd (Martha) Staker and Rick (Jeanne) Staker; five grandchildren David (Christy) Staker, Daniel (Karen) Staker, Bridget Staker; Sandy (Greg) Knepper, Sara (Keith) Spisak; and twelve great grandchildren, all of Kansas City. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his memory to the Boy Scouts of America (Heart of America Council), 10210 Holmes Rd., Kansas City, MO 64131 or KU Endowment - Alzheimer's Research Development Fund, 3901 Rainbow Boulevard, mail stop 3012, Kansas City, KS 66160.


  • Visitation Saturday, March 30, 2013
  • Memorial Service Saturday, March 30, 2013

James M. Staker

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Greg Smith

September 16, 2013

Dear Rick and Rod,
My sister, Georgia, called me today and told me she'd just found out your father passed last March, so I immediately checked the online obits and saw it was true. My apologies for the lateness, I don't take the paper, and only because someone from Swan emailed Georgia - I didn't realize your mom has passed as well.
The memories I have of your folks, and you guys, are all so great; I remember well when you lived in Denver and my amazement how one of you could tell the model of car just by the oncoming headlights! I also remember distinctly (and think of it often with a smirk) how your mom told Alan and me, on a visit/sleepover that "we don't get up at the crack of dawn on Saturday, we 'sleep in' until 8a.m.!'" For the last 30 years, that HAS BEEN the crack of dawn for me!
Jim always made Swan a pleasant place to work, he was well-liked by everyone, and his sense of decency was a breath of fresh air when the air would turn blue in after-work card games! He was always a gentleman as well as a gentle man, as was Helen, what a great couple, what a fine family you all made.
Hope this gets to you at this late date, my dad (Smitty) would have turned 97 on Sept 19th! I'm so glad they had such a great relationship - both seemed eager to have a positive outlook, and I know how highly my Dad prized your Dad's opinion and input on all things.
Even next door to a salvage yard they Swan a great place to grow up. Those hot summer days counting O-Rings seem both long ago and like yesterday.
All the best to you and your families-
Greg Smith

Mike Cleveland

July 2, 2013

We were very saddened to see the news about 'Neighbor Jim' and even moreso about his wonderfully sweet wife. Being neighbors with such a wonderful couple, my wife and I, and my children adored getting to talk with the Stakers, Jim always took such amazing care of his lawn. Our dog who passed away a while back was always greeted with a smile, a HELLO, and a doggy bone treat. Ever now and then the wife or I would look outside and see him playing with our puppy and it was always so sweet to watch. Several times I recall coming over to help with things he and she needed, and occasionally we were rewarded with some AMAZING information about Jim's incredible life. I knew there was something extremely unique about Jim, but once his wife told me about the terrible things he experienced in WWII, being a 3rd gen. vet, it all clicked inside. This man was and is a HERO that our Nation can and will always be grateful for his incredible service and dedication. The Greatest Generation got that name from brave young men like Jim who selflessly did their duty to defend us and our allies. What a man, what a wonderful couple, what a Neighbor! 'Neighbor Jim' will live in our hearts until we pass on, and I hope to shake his hand and see that wonderful smiling face again!
God Bless you Jim Staker, may you rest in peace and enjoy heaven with your wife alongside living free of Earthly affliction. Our deepest condolences to the family.

April 3, 2013

'Pop' was a truly amazing man: thoughtful & good-natured. It's a gift to have known him.

Peter Doddema

Diane Walker|Jameson

March 28, 2013

Dear Rick, So sorry to read about you father's passing. My thoughts prayers are with you and your family. May God give you peace in your loss. Sincerely Diane Walker|Jameson


March 28, 2013

I am grateful for the life of Mr. Staker. Thanks to his service and to the service of others in our armed forces, my family and I have been able to lead our lives in freedom and peace.

March 28, 2013

Dear Rodd, Martha and Family,

Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family!

Judy Carta
Amelia Zang-Carta,
Charlie Greenwood