James Fencl, 79, of Charles City, IA died Saturday, May 25, 2019 surrounded by his family at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.
Memorial Mass for Jim Fencl will be held Saturday, June 1, 2019 at 11 a.m. at Holy Trinity Parish in Protivin, IA. Visitation will be held Saturday from 10-11 at the church. Burial will be in the church cemetery following the service. A celebration of life following the burial will be held from 12:30-3 p.m. at the community center in Protivin.
James “Jim” Louis Fencl was born July 22, 1939 on the Fencl Family farm in Winneshiek County, a mile east of Protivin. He grew up on a trout stream, which laid the foundation for his lifelong love of nature.
Jim attended Rudolphinum High School and graduated in 1958. He had a passion for tractors and started working for John Deere that year while saving money to attend trade school in Kansas City in 1959. He was in the United States Army from 1962 to 1964. When Jim came back home, he met Joann Brookins and they married in 1965, later divorcing but remaining great friends. Jim’s passion for making tractors was rekindled when he started working at Oliver (later known as White Farm) in 1965. In 1973 he purchased a farm outside Protivin, which was his pride and joy. In 1989 he married Dee Stiefel, later divorcing but remaining great friends. In the 1990’s he continued to spark his adventurous spirit though traveling the country driving for Winnebago and Alum-Line.
Over the years Jim enjoyed riding his 4-wheelers and snowmobiles, playing a good game of euchre and ping pong, swimming, gardening, cooking, fishing, canoeing, riding horses, traveling and quality time gathered around the fire with family and friends. Many enjoyed these activities while at Jim’s. He was happiest when others were having a great time making memories at his home.
Jim could strike up a conversation with anyone and did many times over, especially while traveling. He could always find a common thread with any new friend, no matter what background. This trait was passed down to his children who admire what you learn from others if you just take the time. Jim always took the time.
Jim had a unique spirit and always had funny sayings that will go down in history with his family, including “Do you have a hole in your paddle?” (when playing ping pong), “sock it to ‘em” and “mitt full” (when playing cards), “I’m busy taking a break” and many, many Czech phrases. He was a simple man and one of most unique people you’d ever meet. They don’t make ‘em like that anymore. Many who loved him referred to him as “Jimmy” or “Jimma.” Growing up he was also referred to as “Bezinka”, a Czech nickname stemming from his love of picking berries.
Jim was happy to travel to all 50 states, with Hawaii at number 49 in 2011 and Alaska at number 50 in 2017. Over the years while traveling he took time to write hundreds of post cards. He enjoyed talking to others when they traveled to different states. If you would give him the name of any location, he could recall specific details about the area with a smile and use his hands to describe it. Even through all his travels, when asked for his favorite location, Jimmy admitted there were too many to pick just one. He was always happy to come home to Northeast Iowa which he believed was paradise.
Dad loved his family. He was proud of his children and made sure to tell them at the end of every visit. He took special care to always reach out with phone calls and personal visits when in the area of friends and loved ones. Dad also loved nature and taught his children “The closer you are to nature, the happier you will be…” to which his children all agree. He built a pond on his farm to ensure wildlife benefit far beyond his lifetime. Dad said multiple times that he has lived a great, full life. When he was a boy, his dream was to own a John Deere tractor and a farm. Everything beyond this childhood dream was a blessing.
Jim is survived by two sons, Brad Fencl of Ionia and Brent Fencl of Plymouth, MN; daughter Jamie (Brett) Ludwig of Waverly; three brothers, Leonard (Doris) Fencl of Protivin, Victor (Sharla) Fencl of Protivin, Ernie (Martha) Fencl of Cedar Falls; sister Betty Falada of Decorah; one granddaughter Ava Ludwig; and many nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his parents Louis and Alice Fencl, son Brian Fencl, daughter Melissa Fencl, and sister Mary Ann (Willie) Andera.