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James Sylvester Besl

March 19, 2024 | 21 comments

James (Jim) Sylvester Besl, age 87, of Lacrosse, WI, passed away on March 17, 2024 in his home, surrounded by loving family members. He was born on  November 27, 1936 in La Crosse, WI.

James, a family-oriented man, was a father figure not only to his five children but also to his children’s friends as well. Known for his honest and stern demeanor, those close to him always felt the love and affection behind his words. Family meant everything to our father, his wife, children and grandchildren were the world to him, yet he would accept anyone we brought home like they were all one of us. He loved many things, like watching sports, especially his beloved Minnesota Vikings, whom he cheered on for decades and there was always a hope that this was the year; watching his children/grandchildren play sports or any activity they participated in; listening to music anything from 50s rock, which he grew up with, to country music, he had a somewhat of a hard time liking what his children liked though, I think he called it racket; cards and family games, from Euchre to screw your neighbor, and  Left Right Center to Don’t Get Mad, whenever the family was together there were games to be played, and boy did it get loud and competitive; the Logan Rangers, even though our father graduated from Aquinas high school, our father bled Red and White for the LaCrosse Logan Rangers, our dad spent countless hours, not only watching his children and grandchildren perform but spent a lot time filming football and wrestling meets of children that had no relation to him at all, but for the pure joy of contributing to a school/staff that loved him and what he did; Christmas – our father was Mr. Christmas in my book, from setting up Christmas displays at his parents’ house on LaCrosse St, started by his father Syl and mother Vi, a display that brought many memories not only for our family but for many families in the LaCrosse community, my father always had our house decked out with lights and decorations for his own family to enjoy every year, which has also been passed down to all of his children that do the same on their own houses now; among other numerous things that my father adored, there is one love that cannot be matched and that is the love for his true love Shirley, you could see the love every time he looked at her or talked about her, he was truly in love. He was so proud of his wife and that showed greatly in the adoration he had for her, except when playing cards, then no holds barred, just kidding, he showed his children the true meaning of love by the way he treated her. He definitely was not a “love or hate him” guy, everyone loved him and no one will forget him.

In his career, James worked as a printer for the Lacrosse Tribune and Gateway Foods before retiring.

Jim is survived by his beloved wife Shirley; Children, Scott (Barb), Debra, Timothy (Beth), Randal (Heather) and Corey. His grandchildren, Justin Krause, Cheyenne Phillipson, Jordan, Taylor, Jacody Besl; Kaitlin, Cameron Burhoe; Jarrod, Jessica Besl; Greg Arentz, Marissa (Evan) Neitzel, Mackenzie, Alli, RJ Besl; Ian, Maximos, Xavier Besl; Grant, Jack Birnbaum. Great grandchildren, Lila, Vayda, Nevaeh, Madison, Kaimir, Jazmine, Matthew, Austin, MaKynlee; Sisters, Mary Begeman, Pat Skiles; In Laws, Sandra Besl, Pat (Jan) Mahin, Rita (Bill) Dubay, Dana Riniker, Dick (Shawna) Riniker.

Jim is preceded in death by, his parents Sylvester and Viola Besl, Brother Tom Besl, sister Suzanne Kline; Father/mother-in-law, Raymond and Charlotte Riniker; brother in laws’, Chester Skiles, Jack Begeman, Raymond Riniker and grandson Jaime Krause.

A service to honor and remember James will be held at The Gathering Place, 133 Mason St., Onalaska, WI on Friday 3/22/24 at 10 am to Noon visitation and 12-1 pm is open mic, and a Celebration of life will be held after the Gathering Place service, Beginning at 4 pm at The Concordia Ballroom, at 1129 La Crosse St. La Crosse, WI.  In lieu of flowers, please send a donation in my father’s name to either Logan High Booster Club or St. James Catholic Church.

A special thanks goes out to hospice for their outstanding care they provided to our father and our whole family, especially Nicky, who showed special care and kept my mother at ease while going through this hard time.

James will be deeply missed by all that knew him, but his legacy of love and dedication to family and friends will live on in the hearts of those he touched. Love you dad, grandpa, great grandpa.

His service will be livestreamed via the Zoom App.  Click here to view at 11:45 am



  1. Sue Fitzpatrick Horne

    A life well-lived! Mr. Besl always had a smile for everyone and was ready to chat, a friendly guy. He will be missed by many. My deepest sympathies to your family. May you find comfort in your many beautiful memories ????✝️

    • Dave & Cindy Berger

      Sincerest condolences to Shirley Besl and family. The description of Jim and family is spot on. Jim is what the good lord would want us all to be like. We are very thankful for many memories shared with Jim and Besl family. Jim is and will always be missed by many. A gift to all.

    • Dave & Cindy Berger

      Sincerest condolences to Shirley Besl and family. The description of Jim and family is spot on. Jim is what the good lord would want us all to be like. We are very thankful for many memories shared with Jim and Besl family. Jim is and will always be missed by many. A gift to all.

    • Tammy Potaracke

      So sorry to learn of your father’s passing, sounds like a great guy! May you celebrate his love and continue shining his light to all who knows you. Ranger Proud! God bless his memory and your family ❤️

    • Fr. Richard Dickman

      Shirley and family, just learned of Jim’s passing. My heartfelt condolences to you. Unfortunately, I’m not in the area, but thoughts and prayers are with you. He did bring out the best in others, even if he was a Viking fan. Blessings.

  2. Stacey Glaunert

    To the man that corrupted me and turned me into a Viking fan, I will miss our long-distance conversations on the telephone. Grandma will have to bake your date cookies from now on 🙂 You lived a long and fulfilled life. You raised a family to be proud of and that loved you deeply. You will be deeply missed by all that knew you. To the Besl family, Thinking of you all at this difficult time. Take comfort in knowing that he is out of pain and is in good company up there! Uncle Jim, do me a favor and give my mom a big hug for me. Love you all!

    • Bob Ellis

      Our deepest sympathy to Shirley and the family.

      The many wonderful years of Boys Club wrestling will never be forgotten.


      Bob & Eunice

      • Diane Piper

        Hugs and prayers to Shirley and family.
        Diane Piper

  3. Sandy Stall

    My heartfelt sympathy for the family. He truly was a special man ! May you find comfort in all those memories ❤️

  4. Sheila

    Tim and Beth:

    Your dad was a wonderful influence on so many of us!

    Love to you both,

  5. Tami Tooke

    Shirley and family: I am just so sad and so sorry for your loss.

    I am keeping you in my thoughts and prayers…

    Love, Tami Tooke

  6. Patricia Smith (Patty Smith)

    Mr Besl was always at our basketball games and he was one of our best supporters. I enjoyed my time at the Besl house many times as I was friends with Debbie. We all met thru wrestling at the boys club. Truly an amazing man who I know will be missed. Rest in Peace Mr. Besl and say hi to my Dad(Bud Smith) for me. ❤️

  7. Mary Jane Scherdin

    Dear Shirley, I am sorry for your loss, but I was really happy to read about your family and the joys of your life. I am sure they will take good care of you.

    You were a great “secretary” at Logan Junior. Everyone loved you!

    I am living in Denver, CO now with my husband and near my daughter and family. My son and family live in Germantown, WI.

    I still watch the news from La Crosse.

    Very best wishes to you.



  9. Doug Huggett

    My condolences to all as you say so long to this wonderful patriarch of your family. I count it a blessing to be connected to you all through Madison, Marissa, and Evan. Jim, Shirley and I share the joy of being Great Grandparents! The love and respect you all have bestowed on Jim is a testament to his wonderful life, well lived.
    RIP Jim. ????????

  10. Daniel Zeimentz

    We are so deeply sorry for your loss. Jim was a wonderful person who touched the lives of many. May you find strength and solace in the memories you shared strength.

    Dan and Wendy Zeimentz and family.

  11. Casey Knoble

    What an amazing man Jim was and the boys of fall at Logan High School loved that man. One of my favorite things was to listen to him BS with some of our assistants tell them how he was going to “take them down”. All in fun of course… Filmed 100s of games for Logan Football and I’ll still take a good luck hug from Shirley any time I can get one. Great man, great family and our hearts go out to all of you. Thanks to Jim and Shirley for all you have done for Logan and kids on the North Side. Amazing people and family. Honored to be associated with you.

    Casey Knoble and Logan Football Staff

  12. Lynette Lee

    Our deepest condolences to the Besl family.

  13. Faye Goldsmith

    Shirley, I am so sorry to hear of Jim’s passing. My sincerest condolences to you and your family. Let all the wonderful memories help you though this difficult time. Take care.

  14. Kelly Barton

    Besl family, our thoughts and prayers are with you. We have so many memories and ways you have impacted our lives. Jim and Shirley you took Brian in and were his family. You molded the man he is today, amazing husband, father and grandfather. Your support and love was always there. We only hope to contribute in the ways you have to your family and community. We love you.

  15. Ann Smith

    Jim, so you went to heaven on St. Patrick’s day, I hope they have green beer up there! God knows I had a few (well, many). If you see my Dad up there, he likes to play poker, but can be a sore loser sometimes so you may have to throw a game or two if he is losing. I hope you repainted the kitchen ceiling to cover up the cookie dough stains!
    I’ll never forget the kindness you showed me while I was in La Crosse, I felt like part of the family. Your whole family was kind to me.
    Shirley, my heart goes out to you and your family. Jim was such an amazing person, I will always remember him.


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