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Obituary: James J. Clumpner

MARQUETTE – James Joseph Clumpner, age 81, of 902 High Street, Marquette, finished this life and went on to the next. He succumbed to cancer on April 2, 2017, at home, in the loving care of his family and Lake Superior Hospice. Jim was born in Iron Mountain on September 8, 1935, son of Roy Duane and Antoinette (Van Laanen) Clumpner. He was raised in Iron Mountain, Marquette, and DePere, Wisconsin. He spent his childhood in the woods and rivers whenever he could. He didn’t consider himself a stellar student but as an Air Scout he was the first cadet to fly solo in the United States. While in high school he was employed working in a garage, bowling alley, then movie theater. In 1954, he enlisted in the United States Army. While in the Army he earned his G.E.D, was trained as an artillery surveyor, and became an instructor in biological, chemical, and nuclear warfare. He served in Puerto Rico and was honorably discharged in 1957. He went on to attend Florida State University, the University of Wisconsin Extension in Green Bay, and the University of Wisconsin, Madison studying art. Following a fire in 1960, which destroyed his compiled paintings for his senior art project, he dropped out of university and moved to New York. There he worked in banking, retail, and made a film with Edward Gory. But by 1963 he was back in Wisconsin working construction for his uncle’s business, C.R. Meyer of Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The following year found him completing his Bachelor of Arts degree in Art Education from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI. He began teaching art in 1965, first for the Brookwood School District in Ontario, WI then as the district art coordinator in Cudahy, WI. He went back to graduate school at the University of Wisconsin studying furnace glassblowing and was a lab assistant for Harvey Littleton, considered the founder of American furnace glass. In 1968 he married Jill Harker of Neenah, WI. It was not a successful marriage and ended in divorce in 1970. Jim went on to complete his Masters in Art Education that year. He then assisted in the formation of two alternative schools including the Malcolm Shabaz school in Madison, WI. He worked in Portland, OR with friends forming the Bullseye Glass Factory. He also was the director of the Madison Art Center School for several years. He directed and supervised the Mainstream Art Project of Dane County, Wisconsin with a project staff of five. When not employed in the art field, he worked construction and maintenance for landlords in Madison, WI. In 1982, he met Krista Ellis of Shawano, WI. On September 1, 1984, they married in Madison, Wisconsin. Jim continued working as a teacher in the arts teaching adult education at Edgewood College in Madison. As an artist, he completed twenty panels of etched plastic lit by light pipes for the Fireside Theatre in Fort Atkinson, WI. In March of 1985 they moved to Iowa City, IA where Jim worked as a substitute teacher. In 1986 they moved to Mt. Pleasant, MI then Blanchard, MI and started a family. In 1990 they moved to Marquette, MI when Krista took a position at Northern Michigan University. By this time, Jim was a full-fledged caretaker for their two children and “houseband” of the family – cleaning, cooking, chauffeuring, maintenance, and anything else that needed doing. He started painting again, served on the Marquette Arts Council, joined the Lake Superior Art Association and eventually joined their board. For years he helped with Art on the Rocks and Glacier Glide. He was also involved in the Liberty Children’s Art Project in Negaunee, the Marquette County Democratic Party, and local educational issues. He lived throughout the United States from New York to Oregon, from Alaska to Puerto Rico having adventures as varied as snorkeling to avalanche patrol, and working for Macy’s to medic duties during the riots of the 1960’s. His recreational pursuits included canoeing, kayaking, hiking, blueberry picking, and gardening.

Survivors include his wife Krista (Ellis) Clumpner and two children, Ellisa of Minneapolis, MN and Joseph of Marquette; two brothers William Clumpner of Phoenix, AZ and Roy (Margaret) Clumpner of Bellingham, WA; two sisters Gretchen Clumpner of Manhattan, NY and Mary Victoria (Terry) Fanning of Omaha, NE; and several nieces and nephews. In addition to his parents, Jim was preceded in death by a sister, Catherine, sister-in-law Laura Clumpner, and ex-wife Jill Clumpner.

Jim did not wish for a funeral or service. Instead he asks that an act of kindness be done in memory of him. The family would like to express their appreciation to the staff and caregivers at Lake Superior Hospice for the many kindnesses extended to Jim and his family, to the congregation of the Unity Church, and to the medical staff of Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.

More Alumni Notes

Leah Hunter ’05 has joined the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as associate commissioner for external affairs, where she oversees agency-wide communications activities regarding the FDA’s public health and regulatory activities.