obit template2018-11-29T12:10:12+00:00

James Wilfurd

Jim Wahner was a man who enjoyed taking the long way around. He never gave anyone a straight answer if a joke or an apt quotation could be used instead, and his stories were typically not the reader’s digest version! In other words, he was a man who knew how to enjoy life – someone who understood that the journey is more important than the destination. Now, after a long life, rich in hobbies, family, friends, and memories, Jim is finally “flying free.”

On October 24, 1932, Clarence and Estelle “Stell” (Luchterhand) Wahner became the proud parents of their first and only child, a son, whom they named James Wilfurd. James, or Jim as he soon came to be known, was born in his grandmother’s home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Clarence earned a living doing insulation work – at one point, he helped to construct insulation panels for the space shuttle. Stell worked in the infant department of Schuster’s & Company.

Jim attended Rufus King High School, where he participated in both the basketball and track teams. After graduation, he started in on a five-year plumbing apprenticeship. One summer evening after work, Jim was out taking in the sights in his 1929 Chevy. As he was driving, he noticed a girl he knew from high school, Milly Osmussen. Jim stopped the car right there and then, and asked Milly if she would like to go out with him that Saturday night. Milly accepted, and a few days later Jim took her to see “Gone With the Wind” at the Riverside Theater in Milwaukee. Jim and Milly both had a great time, and it wasn’t long before romance blossomed – a romance that would last for almost 60 years.

A few years later, Jim was drafted into the Army, entering the service on June 21, 1956. He served in Fort Dix, New Jersey, and Oswego, New York. Jim’s hard work and commitment earned him a specialist 4th class ranking by the end of his service. Milly, by now Mrs. Wahner, joined Jim at Fort Dix, where their first daughter, Linda, was born.

Jim and Milly built their own home in Brown Deer, Wisconsin, in 1959, moving in after Jim was discharged from the Army. Linda was not an only child for long, and soon had two younger siblings to keep her company: a sister, Tracy, and a brother, Steven James. A final member of the Wahner family was the family dog, an English springer spaniel whom Jim affectionately referred to as Chipper. Jim was a great father, very loving, who always had a joke to make his family smile.

Jim supported his family by working as a plumber. Over the course of his career, he worked for various contractors. Some of his more memorable projects included Biotron in Madison, Wisconsin, the pipes at the top of the Mitchell Park Domes, and the water pools at the Northridge Mall. He was a member of the Plumbers Local Union #75 for fifty-five years. Although Jim did his work well, his true passion in life was reserved for evenings and weekends, when he could work on his hobbies: fishing and flying. He was an avid fisherman, and an active member of the Flying Electrons Club, a club for remote-controlled airplane enthusiasts. Jim was also a dedicated Green Bay Packers fan – life, including his meals, revolved around the team’s game schedule!

Jim’s last project of a forty-five year career was installing the oxygen outlets for St. Mary’s Hospital. Milly remembers Jim coming home that afternoon and saying, “I’ve retired from plumbing. I’ve signed the papers and I’m done!” Jim was thrilled by the prospect of working on his hobbies full-time – retirement was the greatest day of his life. Jim’s golden years were filled with the “two F’s” (flying and fishing). He loved spending time at his cabin in Presque Isle, Wisconsin, and fished on Oxbow Lake as often as he could. Jim and Milly also enjoyed playing at the casinos, and traveled as far as Tunica, Mississippi, looking for the big pay-out. They spent three months of the year in Arizona, and Jim was always raring to go by December 26th – the casinos and the airfields were calling his name. Back at home, Jim started his day off every morning with a group of friends – an “old man” coffee clutch at McDonald’s.

On September 11, 2006, Jim suffered a stroke which led to some increased care needs. He moved into a nursing home in Waukesha, Wisconsin, and Milly moved to the town as well to be near her husband. Jim had some difficulty in communicating after the stroke, which was frustrating for him – he could no longer tell his beloved stories and jokes with the same ease.

Friendly, kind-hearted, and possessed of a wonderful sense of humor, Jim was a devoted husband, a loving father and grandfather, and a loyal friend. He will be deeply missed and lovingly remembered by the many friends and family members he has left behind. He was one of a kind

James Wilfurd Wahner died peacefully on Sunday, April 22, 2012, at the age of 79. He was the beloved husband of Milly (nee Osmussen); the cherished father of Linda (Robert) Brunner, Tracy (Tom) Northway and Steven (Kathryn) Wahner; the loving grandfather of Tyler Brunner, Carli Brunner, Ariana Northway, Amanda Northway, Matthew Wahner, Nicholas Wahner, Benjamin Wahner and Samantha Wahner; and was further survived by other relatives and friends.

Visitation will be held on Monday, April 30, at Wisconsin Memorial park – Chapel of Chimes 13235 W. Capitol Drive Brookfield, WI, from 4 – 6:45 p.m. A funeral service will be held at 7:00 p.m. There will be a private entombment. In lieu of flowers, memorials to the Wisconsin Special Olympics would be appreciated. The family has been served by Suminski LifeStory Funeral Homes. Please visit Jim’s personal memory page at, where you can learn more about his life, share a favorite memory or photo, and sign the online guestbook.

Past Comments

Nick Wahner

thanks for helping me catch my biggest fish ever. A 12-13 inch northern pike

Ben Wahner

I had so much fun when we went fishing! However, when you got that stroke I was really, really sad. I love you Grandpa!


Matthew Wahner

Thank you sooo much for teaching me about your rc airplanes :D. I had so much fun watching and “almost” flying them. I still remember when you were going to let me fly one but it crashed right as it took off.

Thank You, Matthew Wahner

Tyler Brunner


I have many good memories of you and me. I liked going fishing with you. I love you and I will miss you……

Love Tyler

Kathryn Wahner

Today we lay to rest James Wahner, father, grandfather, friend. As I sat in the service last night, I realized how blessed I was to be a part of the Wahner family for almost 29 years. I also realized how much my boys were just like their grandfather: Matt the techie guy who loves anything electronic and programmable, this also goes all the way back to Jim’s dad! Nicholas the lover of cashews and any airplane flying game and real airplanes for that matter! Benjamin, the joke telling, prank pulling, funny guy of the bunch. I am proud that the Wahner name will be carried on through these wonderful boys. Even Samantha is just like her grandfather…very stubborn and steadfast, both qualities that will serve her well in her adult life. We will miss you Grandpa and we are thankful for all of the memories. God Bless!

Don 'Fragmentum' Smith

I earned my nickname LONG after Jim helped teach me to fly R/C planes. I enjoyed being around Jim and we shared a lot of airplane and computer memories together on the field and in his home. You always knew where you stood with Jimmy. If he counted you as ‘friend’, it was forever. Geri and I love this man, Millie and their dog. We will miss you Jim, and we will see you and laugh with you again on the other side…

Kimberly Quinlan

Dear Milly~

I never had the pleasure of meeting Jim but I feel like I do know him. Thank you for sharing so many loving stories. It has been my honor to listen. Your courage, loyalty and tremendous love for your husband and family can be felt in each word.

May the loving arms of our Lord comfort you.

Kimberly Quinlan~ R&R Insurance.

Boyd and Sandra Voelker

Remembering the many, many good times that we have shared with Jim and Milly over the years, whether right in our own neighborhood, going on a road trip “up north” together or even our bowling days…..all such wonderful memories.

Rest in peace good friend.

Tom, Lori and Laurelle Wilke

Dear Millie and Tracy,

Our thoughts and prayers are with you all during this time of grief. We know the comfort and peace of the Holy Spirit is with you. You can take joy in knowing Jim is in his eternal home, rejoicing in his new life. We are very honored to know many of those in his family who honor God and carry on his legacy so beautifully.

– The Wilke’s

Deb Barron / Don Northway

Tracy (Tom)… Milly

Times like these we wish we all lived close by – would have loved to have a chance to get to know him, my kind of guy.

So sorry for your loss.

Our thoughts & prayers go out to you

Don (Northway) & Deb

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