SAN ANTONIO, Texas - James Robert "Jim" Ellwanger passed peacefully into his new life with God in San Antonio, Texas, on October 24, 2012, four days before his 68th birthday, after a valiant eleven-month battle with brain cancer.
Visitation will be held on Saturday, November 3rd from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at Corpus Christi Church in Fort Dodge, Iowa followed by a Mass in Celebration of Jim's life at 10:30 a.m. at Corpus Christi Church. Private interment will be held at Oakland Cemetery, Sac City, Iowa, where he will rest near his parents and his O'Rourke grandparents. The Laufersweiler-Sievers Funeral Home is serving the family.
Jim was born in Carroll, Iowa, on October 28, 1944, to James Arthur "Art" Ellwanger and Mary Frances (O'Rourke) Ellwanger. He grew up on the family farm near Newell, Iowa and at an early age, his love of baseball became apparent. His parent's farmyard was the sight of many baseball games with his brother, cousins and boyhood friends. He graduated from Newell-Providence High School in Newell, Iowa, in 1962, Buena Vista College in Storm Lake, Iowa, in 1966 and received a Masters Degree from the University of Iowa in 1978. He earned money to pay for his college education by painting houses, driving a milk truck and raising purebred Hampshire hogs. Jim married Gloria Faber on December 26, 1969, at St. John Catholic Church, Bancroft, Iowa, and their marriage was blessed with two children, Eric and Marla. Jim was called to serve in the US Army from 1969 to 1971, and coached at Spalding Catholic High School in Granville, Iowa, where his 1971 baseball team won the Fall AA State Baseball championship. From 1972 to 1977 he taught and coached at St. Edmond High School in Fort Dodge, Iowa. In 1978 Jim began his college baseball coaching career at Briar Cliff College in Sioux City, Iowa, where he initiated its baseball program. Among the numerous honors received during his teaching and coaching career were being named Iowa High School Baseball Coach of the Year in 1977, Iowa College Baseball Coach of the year in 1980 and being inducted in 1983 into the Iowa High School Baseball Coach's Association Hall of Fame. From 1986-1992 Jim established a second respected and winning baseball program, this time at University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, TX. From 1992 until December 2011 when illness forced Jim to retire, he taught at the East Central and North East ISD Alternative Schools. From 2000 to 2011, he was also an adjunct instructor at UIW, teaching Dimensions of Wellness courses. Always a man to keep himself in excellent physical condition, he regularly outran and outlasted his much younger college students. He found great joy in teaching young adults how to become and stay physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually fit. Jim read constantly, knowing that learning and education were life-long pursuits.
Jim taught and lived by example his life philosophy: be positive, do your best and never give up. His acceptance of every person for who they are, his quiet integrity and his compassion for the less fortunate were part of his character readily apparent in how he lived his life. He was a gentleman and a gentle man.
Jim's greatest legacy was raising a happy and loving family. He was an exemplary and loving husband, father of two and grandfather of five. A life-long Catholic Christian, he practiced his faith and tried to live the Gospel of Jesus each day of his life. Despite his busy work schedule, Jim found time for hobbies that included, running, hiking, following the St. Louis Cardinals and the Iowa Hawkeyes, creating and maintaining a beautiful yard and koi pond, reading, traveling to historic sites, doing antique shows with his wife and spending time with his children and grandchildren.
He will be greatly missed by his wife and soul mate of 42 years, Gloria; son Eric Ellwanger (Tara) of Allen, TX; daughter Marla Edwards (Chad) of North Little Rock, AR; grandchildren Allie and Megan Ellwanger, and Rene, Austin and Ella Edwards; brother Kendrick Ellwanger (Mary) of Larkspur, CO; brothers-in laws and sisters-in-laws, Judy Fredericksen, Rosella (Conrad) Kunkel, Kathleen (Don) Loew, Melvin (Lucille) Faber and Cindy (Mike) Mulroney; 16 nieces and nephews; numerous great-nieces, great-nephews and cousins. His parents, Art and Mary Ellwanger, his Ellwanger and O'Rourke grandparents, and a niece, Nancy Loew, preceded him in death.
Memorial gifts may be made in Jim's name to The Chromosome 18 Registry, 7155 Oakridge Drive, San Antonio, Texas, www.chromosome18.org or to the Sisters of St. Francis, 3390 Windsor Ave, Dubuque, IA, www.osfdbq.org.