James M. Steckelberg, 65, of Rochester, died Friday, Feb. 21, 2020, surrounded by family at his home.
Jim was born on May 8, 1954, in Fremont, Neb., to Lowell and Melba Steckelberg. He graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1975 with a double major in computer science and mathematics. After being selected for the prestigious Rhodes Scholar Award, he planned to attend Oxford University, where he initially planned to study mathematics and receive his PhD. However, he developed symptoms of severe Guillain Barre syndrome, requiring hospitalization for an extended period of time before leaving for Oxford.
This experience ignited his interest in medicine, and ultimately altered his career path and life course. He went on to study physiology at Oxford, after which he attended Mayo Medical School. He met his wife Christie while in medical school in Rochester, and graduated in 1982. He completed his residency in Internal Medicine at Mayo Clinic in 1985, followed by a fellowship in Infectious Diseases at Mayo. A true "Mayo Lifer."
Jim served as the department chair for the division of Infectious Diseases. Among his many, many career accolades as a Professor Emeritus of Medicine at the Mayo Clinic, he was most proud of being named Mayo Teacher of the Year and loved to teach future generations of physicians. He retired in December 2018 after a long and fulfilling career.
On May 8, 1982, he married Christie A. Miller in Pekin, Ill. The couple lived together in Rochester for the last 40 years where they raised their three daughters, Chelsea, Rachel and Katie.
Jim had many passions. He was an avid collector of his favorite things, including stamps, watches, hats and books. He traveled extensively throughout his life and was a lifelong learner and loved to read, with favorite topics including history and photography. He loved his many dogs over the years, even when they were naughty. In the summertime, you could find him riding his Harley with barbeque waiting for him at home in his smoker and homemade ice cream in the freezer.
He loved spending time at the cabin in Wisconsin on his boat, fishing, and enjoying the peaceful serenity of being on the lake. He was fluent in Dad jokes and dry humor, even to his last day.
Most of all, he loved spending time with his family and loved ones. He was over the moon for his three grandchildren and daughters, whom he was so proud of. He was loved beyond measure by his family, for whom he has left a lasting legacy.
He is survived by his wife, Christie Steckelberg; his brother, Allen (Nancy) Steckelberg of Lincoln; daughters Chelsea (David) Weinstein of Burnsville, Minn., Rachel (Ajay Patel) Steckelberg of Atlanta, and Kathryn (Jason) Handlogten of Rochester; and three grandchildren, Violet and Teddy Weinstein, and Jackson Handlogten.
He is preceded in death by his parents Lowell and Melba Steckelberg of Fremont, Neb.
A Celebration of Life will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Feb 25, at River Park Chapel, Macken Funeral Home. Visitation will be held one hour prior to the service. A private family burial will be held at Oakwood East.
Memorials are preferred to Mayo Hospice or the American Cancer Society.
Online condolences are welcome at his Caring Bridge website: https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/jamessteckelberg.
Macken Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.