James Anthony Jerkatis age 85 of Broomfield, CO, formerly of Charlevoix, MI passed away to the loving arms of Jesus on May 4, 2023 at UC Health Anschutz in Aurora. Jim was born on July 20th, 1937 in Chicago, IL to John Joseph Jerkatis Sr. and Jean (McCrea) Jerkatis. Jim was the middle child of 5 and spoke fondly of his childhood growing up on Archer Avenue in Chicago. He learned early the value of hard work from both his father and mother who worked for the railroad and as a hairdresser, respectively. Even though his parents had little formal education, they were able to see to it that all of their children graduated from college.
After graduating from Tinley Tech High School in Chicago, Jim served his country with honor in the United States Air Force, stationed in Bitburg Germany. He was a member of the 22nd Tactical Fighter Squadron and served alongside two famous Americans, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong who were pilots in his unit.
After his service with the USAF, Jim graduated from Western Michigan University with a Fine Arts Degree and then moved to Grand Rapids, MI. He worked for Grand Valley State University for 25 years in many faculty roles including WGVU/WGVK Studio Supervisor as well as an adjunct professor. Although he had many years with GVSU, it seemed his life only got busier and more productive after retirement.
Jim met the love of his life Lorraine (Gabert) Jerkatis while volunteering for the Civic Theater In Grand Rapids. They were married on June 4th, 1966 in Grand Rapids. From the marriage, Jim and Lorraine were blessed with 2 children, Stephen Alexander and Julie Ann (Zoz). Jim was a wonderful role model and father who taught them many skills including the value of hard work, but balanced with having fun.
Jim was a very talented artist and perfectionist who loved to create. Some of his artwork won many awards including a metal sculpture that won best of show at the Michigan State Fair. Jim was also commissioned by several businesses in the Grand Rapids area to create large metal sculptures for their corporate offices. Lorraine and Julie cherish the jewelry that he made as well.
Given his many accomplishments, Jim will best be known for his mark he left on friends and family who loved him. Jim would selflessly give of himself, especially to those in need. He was full of advice and also loved to help make connections between people. His role as Gramps is the one he will best be known for. His grandkids were everything to him, and he had such an influence on their lives that will remain for years to come.
Jim is survived by his wife, Sweet Lorraine, daughter Julie (Eric) Thompson of Broomfield, grandkids Montana, Sophia, and Audrey, sister Joy Jerkatis of Lexington, KY and brother John (Bertha) Jerkatis of Middleville, MI. Many loving nieces, nephews, cousins, great friends, and 4 sister-in-laws also survive. He was preceded in death by his son Stephen Jerkatis, sister Jacqueline Snell, brother Eugene, as well as his parents.
Per Jim’s wishes, cremation has taken place and the family is planning a future celebration of life featuring his favorite food, ice cream. Donations may be made to a charity of your choice.
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