James R. Dreeszen, 90, a lifelong resident of Auburn, Iowa, passed away Thursday, August 10 at Twilight Acres in Wall Lake, Iowa.
Services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Monday, August 14 at the Auburn United Presbyterian Church, with military rites and burial to follow at Oak Lawn Cemetery north of Auburn.
Visitation will be from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday at Farber & Otteman Funeral Home in Wall Lake, with a prayer service scheduled for 4:30 p.m.
Jim was born in July 1933 to Clarence and Mildred Dreeszen. Growing up, he helped out on his family’s farm near Auburn. As a young boy, he remembered the excitement of coming home one night to see his farmhouse illuminated for the first time as electricity came to the rural area.
He played basketball, sang in the choir, played trumpet in the band and acted in theatrical productions at Auburn High School, where he earned his diploma in 1951.
Following high school, Jim worked for a local farmer. A child of the Great Depression, he kept the first $100 bill he earned for the rest of his life.
With war raging in the Korean peninsula, Jim volunteered for the U.S. Army, rather than be drafted, so that he and two friends also from Sac County could be sent to the same unit. Assigned to Fort Sill in Lawton, Oklahoma, Jim rose to the rank of staff sergeant. The Korean Conflict ended just months before he anticipated being sent overseas.
While at Fort Sill, Jim went on a blind date with a girl named Lorena from nearby Duncan, Oklahoma. Both somewhat shy at the time, they opted to go see a movie because they worried they might otherwise run out of things to say to each other during the date.
Jim eventually proposed and Lorena accepted. The couple were wed in Duncan on June 12, 1955, beginning over 68 years of marriage. They started farming northwest of Auburn, later buying their own farm, where they raised two children and lived for over 50 years before moving to a new home in the town of Auburn in 2005.
In addition to cattle and hogs, Jim raised registered Quarter Horses. Riding his horses, driving an antique buggy, wagon or sleigh pulled by his team of horses, watching rodeos and taking in other western activities remained one of his favorite pastimes throughout his life.
Jim was a community leader for decades, both as an elected official and as a volunteer for multiple organizations.
For over 40 years, he was elected Sac Township Clerk, a position whose duties included marking plots for burial at the township cemeteries and working closely with area funeral homes.
From 1972 to 1985, he served on the Lake View-Auburn school board, including stints as board president, staying long enough to hand out diplomas to both his children.
A past chair of the Stewart Memorial Community Hospital Board of Trustees, his six-year tenure on the board from 1989 to 1995 came during a major expansion of the Lake City, Iowa, health care center.
As a longtime member of the Auburn Lions Club, he enjoyed helping out with the club’s annual Halloween parties and Easter egg hunts for local children.
A lifelong member of the Auburn United Presbyterian Church, Jim filled multiple roles over the years, from serving as the session clerk and leading the Sunday School program to raking leaves and pulling weeds around the grounds. For many years, Jim and Lorena sang in the church choir and formed a duet at numerous funerals.
In retirement, Jim and Lorena took up country dancing, a hobby they enjoyed with a group of friends.
For several years, the couple hauled their Fifth Wheel camper to south Texas for an escape from Iowa’s harsh winters. Until just a few years ago, they also had a reserved camping spot at the Iowa State Fair, which Jim first attended with his parents as an infant. Each year, he looked forward to going to Des Moines to take in the “Nothing Compares” extravaganza, from watching horse shows to eating corn dogs to riding the sky glider with his grandkids.
He also kept rooting for his favorite college team, the Iowa Hawkeyes. At age 82, he attended his first football game at Kinnick Stadium with his son and a grandson.
After slipping on an icy driveway, Jim suffered a head injury that led to his dementia in the final years of his life. It slowly robbed him of his sharp memory, playful sense of humor and easy conversational manner. But he continued to show his love and affection for his family and his belief in Christ as our Risen Savior until his last days.
Jim is survived by Lorena, his wife of 68 years; two children, David and his partner, Amy Duhachek of Sioux City; Cindy of Auburn and her fiancé, Gary Adams of Omaha; four grandchildren: Robin Dreeszen of Sioux City; Rachel Dreeszen of Kensett, Iowa; and Matthew and Megan Dreeszen of Auburn; and a sister, Jean Peck of Rockwell City.