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Jimmy "Jim" J. Walenga
January 19, 1931 ~ January 15, 2024 (age 92) 92 Years Old
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Jimmy J. “Jim” Walenga, age 92 of Mishawaka, went to be with the Lord in Heaven on Monday, January 15, 2024. His son and daughter were at his side. Jim was born January 19, 1931, in Calumet City, Illinois to the late James and Lottie (Stein) Walenga. Jim was raised on the South side of Chicago and moved to Mishawaka in 1955. He was a graduate of Leo High School in Chicago and later earned his bachelor’s degree in engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology. Upon the completion of his degree, the call of his Country was heard, and Jim answered. He enlisted in the US Army in 1953, where he obtained the rank of Corporal before his honorable discharge in 1955. On October 7, 1961, he married Phyllis J. Perl in Austin, Minnesota. They celebrated over 57 years of marriage before her passing in June of 2019.
Surviving are his children Michael Walenga of Mishawaka and Karen (Dennis) Preusker of Libertyville, Illinois, along with four grandchildren: Steven, Rachel, James, and Matthew Preusker and several nieces and nephews. His wife Phyllis, his son Thomas Walenga and his sister Dorothy (Walenga) Teeter preceded him in death.
Visitation will be held at Wells and Cruz Family Funeral Home (formerly Goethals and Wells) in Mishawaka from 11am-1pm on Saturday, January 27, 2024. Following prayers at the Funeral Home, we will proceed to St. Joseph Catholic Church in Mishawaka where the Mass of Christian Burial will begin at 1:00pm. Following Mass, Jim will be laid to rest with military honors beside his wife and son in Fairview Cemetery.
A devout member of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Mishawaka, Jim was a faithful attendant where he selflessly volunteered his time to clean the church and assist with its finances.
Professionally, Jim served as an engineer for the Bendix Corporation for over 40 years. He was instrumental in the design of the Talos Missile and worked on several other defense projects. Following his retirement, he enjoyed spending time with his former co-workers through the Bendix Retiree’s Club.
In his spare time, Jim found joy in numerous activities. Whether on the golf course or in the bowling alley or taking walks with Phyllis, Jim enjoyed competition and the spirit of good sportsmanship. He enjoyed all the Chicago Sports Teams and enjoyed watching and discussing the games. Date nights and dinners out with his wife Phyllis were cherished moments, often accompanied by Jim's favorite drink, a well-made Manhattan – especially the ones made by his son in law, Dennis. He was an avid fan of NASCAR racing and classic cars, and in his heart, Jim often thought he should have become a racecar driver, rather than an engineer!
Generous, kind, and quiet, Jim's love for his family knew no bounds. He will be remembered as a devoted father and grandfather, actively supporting his children and grandchildren in all their sporting events and programs. Family vacations were a source of joy for Jim, with cherished memories created during trips to Italy, yearly visits to Minnesota, and several driving trips that included the Grand Canyon and Disney World.
Jim leaves behind a legacy of faith, dedication, and love. He will be remembered fondly by all who had the privilege of knowing him. In his memory, donations may be given to St. Joseph Catholic Church of Mishawaka and American Cancer Society. To light a virtual candle, share a story of Jim’s life, or leave a message of comfort for his family, please follow the links provided on the tribute wall tab above.