July 17, 1915 - November 06, 2021
James J. Haslem of Quincy died on Saturday November 6th. He lived 106 years with barely a health problem. He was born on July 17, 1915 to Dr. and Mrs. William Haslem of Aurora, IL. He married Dorothy Linden on April 22 1950. They adopted three children, he has five grandchildren.
Jim had a long and fascinating life and will be missed by many people he touched over the years. While growing up in Aurora, Jim had a paper route. He was also a gymnast, and he played the violin in the school orchestra. In his own words, he was a C student in high school.
During the depression years Jim worked at the Youngstown Sheet and Tube Co of Indiana Harbor, Indiana, living at the South Chicago YMCA.
After Pearl Harbor was bombed, he joined the United States Navy and served on a minesweeper, PT 104. Their job was to clear out mines and escort convoys of ships across the Atlantic and into the Mediterranean Sea. They also rescued survivors of ships sunk by the German submarines. He was discharged as a Chief Electrician's Mate after VE Day.
After the war, he had a dilemma. Jim wondered if he should try college, remembering how hard high school was, and knowing that he had been out of school for thirteen years. However, with the support of his friends and family, he entered the University of Illinois in September 1946. While at the college he never paid for a meal. He fondly said being a waiter at a sorority house was a great decision; his momma didn't raise any dummies. Also, while attending the U of I he learned to fly. Earning his private and commercial licenses, Jim took up acrobatic flying, the best flying of all. He also continued with his music, playing the bass fiddle with some of the great Big Bands of the time.
Jim was hired as a high voltage electrical salesman selling outdoor power substations to all electrical utilities in the state of Ohio. After twenty years, he started his own business as a manufacturer's representative, working for another ten years until he decided to retire. Then another wire and cable company recruited him because he specialized in high voltage cable sales, retiring again at 76.
After Jim turned 90 he sold almost everything he owned and moved to Quincy to be near his grandchildren, Katie Crook and Ian Haslem. Starting another phase of his life, he moved into Curtis Creek, where he lived for 16 years. He taught mathematics at John Wood Community College, finally retiring at 97. After 81 years he also tried the violin again, just to see if he could remember how to play, which he did very well! Jim loved bridge and was always looking for a game. As an avid reader he was fascinated by the strides mankind had made in his 100 plus years and dreamed of the possibilities to come. His birthdays were always days of joy and surprises. Some of Jim's favorite memories were birthday rides in a 1915 auto on his 100th and an airplane ride on his 103rd, the first time in a plane since his piloting days. His apartment walls were covered with quotes, thoughts he wanted to remember. Jim wrote many stories of his very interesting life.
A hero is gone. We lost an incredible storyteller - a man who never met a stranger or forgot their names. He was a loving grandfather who could entertain by reciting the alphabet backwards or explaining square roots. We also lost a man with experience and wisdom of knowing that coming together to overcome challenges is the only way to get through. He will be profoundly missed. Jim was often asked how to live to be 106 and he would always say with a laugh and a smile "Just keep breathing".
Memorial Mass: 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, November 18, 2021 at Church of St. Peter with Monsignor Leo Enlow officiating.
Visitation: there will be no visitation, but friends are invited to attend the Mass.
Inurnment: Sunset Cemetery with full military honors by American Legion Post 37 and the United States Navy Funeral Honors Detail.
Hansen-Spear Funeral Directors are in charge of arrangements.
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