James Marlin Okas, Papa Jim, was a wonderful husband, father, brother and grandfather. He passed away unexpectedly on Wednesday, July 12th at UW Hospital.
Jim was born on October 30th, 1942 in Beloit, Wisconsin to Ruby B. Okas (Brewer) and John T. Okas. He attended Bishop Shanahan High School in Pennsylvania, then graduated with an Associate of Science degree in Electronics from the Spring Garden Institute in Pennsylvania. He then moved back to Wisconsin and attended UW-Madison before being drafted into the army and serving in Vietnam. While working at the Capital Theater in Madison he met the love of his life, Suzanne. He married Suzanne Brodzeller on June 17, 1967 in Madison, WI.
Jim served in Vietnam when he was newly married.
This would prove to change the entire way he looked at life. After the war, he decided that he would live his life on his own terms. He owned his own businesses, which fostered a successful entrepreneurial spirit in his children. He had a great sense of adventure and loved to make a list and plan road trips and vacations with his family. Because of him, we have traveled the United States through campers, RVs, cars and planes. He helped us appreciate the beauty of campsites and “rustic” cabins, which some of us embraced more than others… He helped us foster a love for lake life. We owned a cabin in the north woods growing up, which was where we spent many weekends with family. We then bought a lake house for our family and that is where Jim spent many of his favorite hours on the covered porch listening to the loons.
He taught us how to fix things. He taught us how to cook. And we excelled in life knowing that our Dad and Mom were our biggest fans, our loudest cheerleaders, our constants, our foundation.
He was a Dad first and foremost, his claim to fame is still that he delivered his son on the bathroom floor. It is quite a story that Mom will happily share with you if asked. Becoming a Grandpa was his greatest joy in life. He made it a priority to attend all of his grandkids’ functions and was always up for a family dinner or surfin’ Tuesday boat night. The last year of his life was spent living on The Farm. At the age of 80, he decided he wanted goats and became the proud owner of two, Duke and Roy. On any given day, you could find him tooling around The Farm on his golf cart or simply sitting by his goats. He had a favorite spot at each of our houses to sit and soak up life.
He was preceded in death by his parents, John and Ruby “Kitty” Okas, an infant brother, brother Roger Okas, sister-in-law Jan Okas. He is survived by his wife, Sue, children Andrew (Heather) Okas, Amy (Ed) Bernards and Jennifer Schmidt, and grandchildren: Jenna (Chris), Alexis, Noah, Grace, Gavin, Ava and Aaron; brother, David (Beth) Okas; sister, Liz (Missy Longacre) Okas.
A Memorial Service will be held at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, August 1, 2023 at Winn-Cress Funeral Home, 5785 Hwy Q, Waunakee. Family will greet friends from 11 a.m. until the time of service. Military honors will conclude the service followed by a lunch at The Farm, 4895 Easy Street, Waunakee.
A special thank you to the amazing crew of Waunakee EMS, Waunakee Fire Department, VA Hospital in Madison and the UW Hospital. A special thank you to Jim’s friend and helper, Betty Hubble.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to his family who will donate in Jim’s name to the many groups who have taken part in Jim’s care.
Winn-Cress Funeral Home
5785 Hwy Q, Waunakee