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James “Jim” Jacob Shimshak

March 11, 2024 | 16 comments

James “Jim” Jacob Shimshak, 86, passed away on March 8, 2024, at the Tomah VA in Tomah, WI,  surrounded by his loving family.

Jim was born on December 7, 1937, in La Crosse, Wis., to Mathilda (Thesing) and Joseph Shimshak. He grew up in the Adams Street neighborhood and was a baptized member of the Holy Trinity Catholic Church.

After graduating from Aquinas High School in 1957, Jim entered the U.S. Navy and served aboard the submarine U.S.S. Tirante (SS-420) stationed out of Key West, Fla. After his service, he returned to La Crosse and worked at Trane Co.

On June 22, 1968, Jim married Wanda Byom at the Hardies Creek Lutheran Church in Ettrick, Wis. They started their lives together in northern Wisconsin where Jim was a schoolteacher.

They returned to the La Crosse area where Jim worked at Northern Engraving for 32 years.

In 1969, they welcomed their son, Jeremiah. They moved to Holmen, Wis., in 1972 and their daughter, Wendy, was born a year later.

Jim played baseball and was a catcher for several fastpitch softball league teams including Handy Builders, Pogy’s, and Keg Bar in the La Crosse area. He was part of the Handy Builders 1972 City Classic League Championship team, and played in the 1977 World Softball Championship in Phoenix, AZ with Keg Bar. Jim also enjoyed fishing, hunting, woodworking, bowling, playing Euchre, “solving the world’s problems” with his McDonald’s coffee group, and spending time with family and friends at the cabin. He was a member of the Holmen Village Board of Trustees for several years and served on the councils at Holmen Lutheran Church and Hardies Creek Lutheran Church in Ettrick, Wis. He also taught Sunday School at Holmen Lutheran.

Jim is survived by his wife of 55 years, Wanda; son Jeremiah Shimshak, daughter and son-in-law Wendy and David Longtin and granddaughter Elliot Longtin; brother-in-law Roger Beck; brother-in-law and sister-in-law Duane and Roxie Byom; sister-in-law Kathy Beirne; many nieces and nephews; extended family and many friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents and siblings and their spouses: Audrey Larkin, Mildred Shimshak, William (Stella) Shimshak, Kathleen Beck, and Mary (William) Sharlow.
Jim’s family would especially like to thank the caring staff at Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center, Tomah Health Hospital and Tomah VA Medical Center.

Visitation will be Friday, March 15, from 4 to 7 p.m. at Hardies Creek Lutheran Church, N18481 County Road DD, in Ettrick. Funeral services and burial will be Saturday, March 16, at 1 p.m., with visitation from 11 a.m. until time of service also at the church. Pastor John Ashland will officiate.

Coulee Region Cremation Group is assisting the family. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred.



  1. Joan Koelbl

    Jim was my dear friend and big brother most of his life. He was a true role model, trustworthy, honest, and a joy to be around. I will miss him very much. My prayers to Wanda and family.

  2. Kate Malles-Jacobson

    Jim and I worked together at Northern Engraving. Even after we no longer worked there, we stayed in touch. We had a special bond. I had the pleasure of visiting with Jim at his beloved cabin. It was so apparent how much he loved that cabin. That day he showed me around and he showed me all the special touches he had did there. He talked about how his wife had decorated it perfectly and how much Jeremy still took the time to take care of the place. We shared lots of laughs and some tears that day. RIP my dear friend. You are 1 of a kind and will be missed by many.

  3. Bonnie Antony

    Jim Shimshak Family,
    Jim was always pleasant person & great time. I remember him when he was dating Wanda. Many fun times and we will miss not seeing him.
    Our prayers & thoughts are with you. Bonnie & LaVerne Antony

  4. Jim Sandman

    Dear Wanda, family and friends of Jim,
    On behalf of the United States Submarine Veterans, we offer our sincere condolences at Jim´s passing. Please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers. We are always saddened whenever a fellow “Bubblehead” departs on Eternal Patrol. He served with honor on the USS Tirante SS-420.
    To our “Brother-of-the-Phin” we say, “Sailor, rest your oar. We have the watch. Fair Winds and Following Seas.” Thank you for your service to our country.
    Wanda and family… “may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you.” 2 Thessalonians 3:16 (ESV).
    Jim Sandman, FTC(SS) Ret,
    National Chaplain, USSVI.

  5. Rick Brague

    This is your old Buddy from Trane Co.
    We have not seen each other for years!
    Still have great memories of our fun times – your hardy laughter and good disposition!
    Prayers for all of your family !

    • Paul Wiese

      I’ve only known Jim for about 6 years. But in that time we got to know each other well. As drivers for Dahl Automotive we spent many hours together on trips to Illinois or Minnesota car auctions. One could always count on Jim keeping the conversation going on the long drives. I learned about his years in the Navy and years up north teaching art and his work for Northern Engraving and Trane. There were lots of family stories about visiting his daughter and family in Alaska or out west, hunting with his son, times at the cabin, or doing things with his wife. Jim loved using his hands to fix and create things. Best of all he was good with people. Whether telling jokes or pulling your leg, Jim could be counted on to make things fun. He loved his country often saying, “America is the greatest country in the world.” He loved his friends. He loved his family. Jim Shimshak, a good man.

  6. Teri and Dan Johnson

    Jim was a wonderful neighbor and friend for many years. When buying our first home we got so lucky that it was next door to Jim and Wanda. A man of integrity and a passion for life. I Believe we all meet again one day in heaven. I also believe that Jim would be happy looking down on smiles vs. tears until those he left behind join him one day. Heaven gained a wonderful man. Rest in Peace Jim.

  7. Francis Formanek

    My sincere condolences on Jim’s death. I grewup across the alley from Jim and the Shimshaks. Back in the day when everyone knew their neighbors. I also had the pleasure of being Jims teammate when we played for Handy Builders and Pogy’s. Jim was a great neighbor and a really good catcher. I always looked forward to seeing him at the annual softball reunion at the Moose. He will be sadly missed. May he now enjoy his eternal home in heaven. Ps. If you play catch with Gomer in heaven watch out for his knuckle ball.

  8. Clete Hoadley

    So very sorry to learn of Jim’s passing. We were teammates on that 1972 city championship team. He was the only softball catcher I can remember that was smart enough to wear full protective gear when catching. Always upbeat and a fun guy to be around. I always looked forward to seeing him at the annual softball get together. RIP “Shimmy” .

  9. Doug Huggett

    My condolences to all. My association with Jim was through our responsibilities at NECO, beginning in Holmen and continuing through several locations. We often dealt with tooling concerns for various customers, however the joy was always the camaraderie in the everyday workplace environment. Always positive and humorous, I concur with others who have commented on his integrity and genuine love for people. RIP Jim????????❤️????

  10. Sandra Kawatski

    Dear Wanda and family,
    You and Jim were good role models for many families. Honest, hard-working, and trustworthy…memories that last.
    Sandra & Joe Kawatski

  11. Thomas Byom

    So sorry to hear about Jim’s passing. I always enjoyed Jim’s laugh and his gregarious personality. I really got to know Jim when he joined some of our Canadian Fishing Trips. We will all miss Jim, and our thoughts and prayers are with the entire family.

    Thomas & Shawn Byom

  12. Joe Bott

    Jim was the kindest man I’ve ever gotten to know in my lifetime. He was my next door neighbor for 44 years. He loved helping people. He told me how he looked up to my dad who was 15 years older. Jim was the batboy for their softball team. Jim became a VERY good softball player in La Crosse for many years. I looked up to Jim so much. He lead by example & words. He had the best sense of humor. He could make you laugh on your worst day. He was such a shining example for everyone. He loved his family & life so much. My wife & I are gonna miss him a lot. God please bless his beautiful family.

    • Roger Benson

      Jim u were kind, genuine,funny and second best catcher in the league. I too played on the 72 Handy Builders team. So glad I talked with you before you passed. RIP my friend. Will miss you.


    Sorry to hear about Jim’s passing. I worked with Jim at Dahl Auto. driving and picking up cars and trucks. I got to know a lot about Northern Engraving my sister-in-law worked at the one in Waukon, Ia. my hometown. She was there many years and stayed till they closed it. Jim and I knew many of the same people that worked there. Small world we live in, we also talked about many things in his life. Had a lot of laughs together riding in the same cars. He will be missed for sure. God Bless him and his family.

  14. John H Mckee Jr

    Jim you will be missed you were a special friend and shipmate on tirante and in civilian times sorry l wasn’t able to make your service thank you Wanda for looking out for my old buddy.


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