James “Jim” A. Wignes, 88, of Rochester, died Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018, at his home following a valiant battle with heart failure.
Jim was born Oct. 31, 1929, to Arthur Joseph “AJ” and Ruth (Cawelti) Wignes in rural Farwell, Minn. He graduated in 1947, from Northwood High School in Northwood, Iowa. Jim was active in football, baseball, basketball, drama and music. In 1951, he graduated from Iowa State Teachers College in Cedar Falls, Iowa, with a bachelor’s degree in math and physics. He was inducted into Phi Sigma Epsilon fraternity.
Jim began his teaching career in Rockford, Iowa. In 1952, he was drafted into the U.S. Army and served during the Korean War era, from 1952 to 1954. On April 1, 1953, Jim and Joanne Hanson were married in Albert Lea. They lived in Ft. Leavenworth, Kan., until 1954. After the Army, they moved to Armstrong, Iowa, where Jim taught high school math and science.
In 1958, Jim earned a master’s degree from Colorado State College in Greely, Colo. They moved to Rochester, where Jim began teaching science at Rochester Community College. He later became director of admissions. Jim retired from RCC after 32 years of service.
Jim was an active member of Bethel Lutheran Church since 1962. He taught classes and was on church council, as well as serving as president.
Jim was a member of 1st Minnesota Civil War reenactment group, Civil War round table, Sertoma Club, and Pleasant Grove Masonic Lodge No. 22. He was a charter member of the Korean War Vets Club. He had also been a long time Mayo volunteer.
Jim is survived by Joanne — wife of 65 years; brother, Russell (Maxine) of Albert Lea; sons, Mark (Lanette) of Rochester, and Jay (Karen) of Ankeny, Iowa; grandchildren, Amy (Mike) Wignes-Mallet, Adam, Jon (Molly), Tom, Michael (Anna); and great-grandchildren, Gavin and Logan Mallet, Judson Wignes, and Emery Wignes. He loved being a grandpa and great-grandpa.
Jim was preceded in death by his parents, AJ and Ruth; siblings, Lois Jean (Bud) Noe, Stanley, Loren, and Lyle; and granddaughter, Jennifer Wignes.
Memorials may be made to Mayo Clinic heart research, Bethel Lutheran Church or Pleasant Grove Masonic Lodge Scholarship fund.
Jim’s family thanks Dr. Takahashi and the Mayo Clinic Hospice team who cared so lovingly for Jim.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, Sept. 21 at Bethel Lutheran Church with the Rev. Norman Wahl officiating. Visitation will be from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20, in the River Park Chapel at Macken Funeral Home. Masonic Service provided by Pleasant Grove Lodge No. 22 A.F and A.M will be held at 7 p.m. during Thursday’s visitation. Visitation will also be held one hour prior to the service Friday at the church. Burial will be at Oakwood Cemetery.
Online condolences are welcome at www.mackenfuneralhome.com.