James F. Liebhauser was an honest, compassionate and caring man, who lived his life dedicated to his family, faith and friends. He was a hardworking and generous person; an active and attentive father. His actions always spoke louder than his words, and although he may have seemed gruff at times, he was said to have a heart like a “giant marshmallow.” Jim tried every day to be the best man he could, and was rewarded with a life of happiness for his efforts.
The mid 1930s were a harsh period in our nation’s history, when the economic crunch of the Great Depression took a toll on everything from the largest factory to the smallest family. Though times were tough, hope shone like a beacon on the horizon as a new and invigorated president aimed to lift the country back onto the pedestal of greatness. James Francis Liebhauser entered this world on May 22, 1936, in the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, born to Theodore and Mary (Manion) Liebhauser.
The youngest of two children, Jim grew up with his older sister, Joan, in their family home in Bay View, a quiet suburb on the southeast side of Milwaukee. His family was lifelong members of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, and Jim continued his religious training by attending Immaculate Conception Grade School. He then went to Bay View High School, where he excelled in various sports, including golf, bowling and as pitcher of their baseball team. In fact, Jim was quite talented as a pitcher and went on to try out for the Milwaukee Braves, but he did not make the cut
After graduating from Bay View High in 1954, Jim attended Marquette University for a year before following the patriotic calling of other young men of the time, and enlisted in the U.S. Army. He proudly served on active duty and in the reserves for 6 years before being honorably discharged in 1959. Shortly thereafter, Jim was set up on a blind date with Jeanette Hein by some friends and with that, their love story had begun. The two fell in love and were happily married in 1960.
After Jim got out of the Army, he began working for the U.S. Postal Service as a letter carrier for the Bay View Postal Station. Then, in 1962, Jim and Jeanette delighted in welcoming the birth of their first child, son David, who was joined 2 years later by their second son, Robert. Jim was a wonderful father to his two boys, always active and supporting of their endeavors. From coaching their various teams and being involved in Cub Scouts to spending time together in Door County, his passion was to make a wonderful life for his family. Tragically, Jim and his sons lost their beloved wife and mother, Jeanette, in August 1979, from complications of genetic heart problems.
Although heartbroken, Jim continued to stay active and go on with life. He kept busy with his postal work, and devoted even more time to caring for his boys. With a longtime love of sports, Jim enjoyed umpiring baseball games, playing on a dart ball team, and bowling on several leagues. In fact, he was recognized for having a number of high scoring series while bowling. Jim also enjoyed playing cards, and was greatly involved in many of his church’s activities.
In 1982, Jim’s life took a new direction when he met a recent widow, Arlene Feld, who was on his mail route. He would see her quite regularly out walking and he always greeted her with a friendly “hello.” As her endurance built up and she walked farther, Jim encountered her several times on his route. She even scolded him once when he wasn’t wearing gloves while delivering her mail in the bitter winter weather. With encouragement of friends, Jim eventually asked Arlene out 4 months after they met and with that, another love story had begun. Jim and Arlene were happily married in the Immaculate Conception Church on January 21, 1983, and settled into married life together in Jim’s family home at 3166 South Lenox Street.
Together, Jim and Arlene enjoyed 28 years of marriage. They did everything together, including being fishing and bowling buddies. In 1985, the couple bought a cottage in Townsend, Wisconsin, where they shared many wonderful memories with their families. With Jim’s 2 sons and Arlene’s 5 children, they had plenty of opportunities to be surrounded by family. There wasn’t anything that Jim wouldn’t do for his loved ones, and his generous spirit often overflowed to those less fortunate too. A genuinely charitable man, Jim gave what little he could to various organizations to help in whatever small way he could. When asked why he bothered to do this, Jim simply said “it was $5 or $10 they didn’t have before.” There was one charity that Jim donated to that bought craft kits for soldiers recovering in the hospital – and as a proud veteran himself, this touched his heart. In 1997, Jim retired from the Postal Service after 38 years of service.
Jim may have been very opinionated and quick to speak his mind, perhaps sometimes coming off a bit harsh, but his kind, compassionate and loving heart told the real story of his life. He will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved him.
In August 2010, Jim was diagnosed with lung cancer and passed away at St. Francis-Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare Center on Friday, February 4, 2011, at the age of 74. Beloved husband of Arlene (nee Balistreri), and proceeded in death by his first wife, Jeanette (nee Hein). Loving father of David Liebhauser and Robert Liebhauser. Stepfather of Don (Alice) Feld, the late Robert Feld, Daniel Feld, Sandy (Eric) Neitzke and Cheri (Greg) Toles. Grandchildren: Megan, Mathew, Bryce, Zachary, Stephanie and David. Further survived by other relatives and friends.
Visitation will be on Friday, February 11, at Immaculate Conception Church, 1023 E. Russell Avenue (corner of E. Russell and S. Kinnickinnic Avenue), from 9:30 a.m. until time of the Funeral Mass at 11:00 a.m. Interment at Mt. Olivet Cemetery. Arrangements by Suminski Family Funeral Homes, Niemann/Suminski, 2486 S. Kinnickinnic Avenue, Milwaukee, WI (414-744-5156). Please visit Jim’s personal memory page at www.lifestorynet.com, where you may share a memory with his family or sign his online guest book.
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