Obituary: James (Jim) Bartels

James (Jim) Bartels died on November 1, 2023, in hospice at the VA Hospital in Madison. Jim, also known as Sparky in high school and Deeber (by his kids) was 87 years old and a long-time resident of Reedsburg, Wisconsin. He was a loving husband, father, and friend with many talents, a quick wit, and a gift for telling (and retelling!) stories. 

On May 9, 1936, Jim was born in Cecil, Wisconsin—delivered at home by his Aunt Sarah and Uncle Ed Campbell, a nurse and doctor who lived below Rollie and Stella Bartels, Jim’s parents. They raised Jim and his brothers Larry and Tom in Shawano, Wisconsin. Jim enjoyed the benefits of living near many relatives, spending summers at his aunt and uncle’s Elcho Riding Academy and attending Cecil Mudhens baseball games with his cousins. At Shawano High, Jim participated in track, football, basketball, choir and theater. In fact, Jim held the SHS track long jump record for 25 years.  

Jim attended Winona State and Platteville Mining School.  In 1959, Jim enlisted in the Army where he was chosen to be a Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Guard at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. Jim shared many stories of his duty as a tomb guard, including being present on the tarmac when Russia’s Nikita Khrushchev visited the U.S. for the first time.  

In 1957, Jim met Marilyn (Lynn) Gehant and their first date was seeing the movie South Pacific. Jim and Lynn were married on June 4, 1960, in Shawano. In 1966, they moved to Reedsburg, Wisconsin where they raised their family and met many friends at Sacred Heart Church.  

Jim owned Jim’s Liquor Store and Bartels Insurance Agency; he also worked in finance and sales. A proud sports dad, Jim coached several basketball teams and attended countless sporting events to watch and zealously cheer for his kids. He loved all Wisconsin sports teams and was a loyal fan. Other hobbies include: Lions Club (former President), Reedsburg Athletic Club, Nishan Park Development Board, couples’ bridge club, golfing at Reedsburg Country Club, and in recent years, Tuesday lunches with his brother Larry.  

Jim sang often and had a wonderful voice. He performed in many musicals at The Baraboo Theatre Guild and Baraboo University Theatre.  He loved being a part of The Reedsburg Singers, who harmoniously serenaded many brides (including his daughter) at weddings with “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.”  

Jim is survived by his beloved wife of 63 years, Lynn, his daughter Ann Quiring (Kevin), sons Mike (Amy), Dave (Michelle), Rob (Rebecca), Tim, and Brian (Jess). He is also survived by 11 grandchildren: Grace and Ellie Quiring, Julia and Joe Bartels, Rylee, Reese and Jenna Bartels, Maddie, Matthew and Mallory Bartels, and Fawn Bartels. In addition, stepchildren and grandchildren from Rebecca’s kids Pierce and Gabrielle (Richard): Beckham, Everett, and Landyn.  Jim is also survived by his brother Larry Bartels and sister-in-law Judi Bartels, sister- and brother-in-law Yvonne and Dean McGuire, plus many dear nieces, nephews and cousins.  

Jim was preceded in death by his infant daughter Kathleen, parents Roland and Stella Bartels, brother Tom Bartels, mother and father-in-law Mary and Cyril Gehant, three sisters-in-law: Patricia and Donna Gehant and Joan Bartels, and brother-in-law Cy Gehant.  

Every time one of his kids left the house, Jim would sing a portion of “We’ll Meet Again” by The Ink Spots: We’ll meet again/Don’t know where/Don’t know when/But I know we’ll meet again one sunny day.” Yes, we will, Jim. Keep singing in Heaven! We love you.  

A visitation for James Bartels will be held on Saturday morning, November 11, 2023 from 9:30 A.M. until 11:30 A.M. at the Farber Funeral Home, Reedsburg. A Mass of Christian Burial will be conducted at 12:00 Noon on Saturday, November 11, 2023, in Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Reedsburg, with Father Luke Syse officiating. A eulogy will begin at 11:50 AM just before the start of the Mass. Burial with military rites will be conducted at the Calvary Cemetery, Reedsburg. Memorials preferred to Madison VA Hospital/Hospice or Sacred Heart School.