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Welcome to the memorial page for

James Marks

January 14, 1926 ~ April 28, 2017 (age 91)

James E. Marks, 91.  Birth: 1-14-1926.  Death: 4-28-2017.

“James Estes is the bestest!”  That phrase was coined by James E. Marks' dedicated caregivers at Hancock Haven, his second family for the past seven years.  Not only was the phrase a perfect fit, it was also true throughout his life.  Jim was a wonderful son of Nichola and Ethel Grace Marks of Kalamazoo, Michigan; faithful husband of Kathleen (Williams) Marks; younger brother to the late Jack (Penny) Marks, Punta Gorda, Florida; and perfect father to Steve (Claire) Marks of Ft. Wayne, Indiana; Karen Luttmann-Shamanoff of Cheboygan, Michigan; Jeffrey (Wendy) Marks of Waynesboro, Virginia; and Dana (Terri) Marks of Madison, Wisconsin.  He is also survived by 10 successful and loving grandchildren, all of whom he was always very proud of, along with 10 great grandchildren.

Jim was a graduate of Kalamazoo Central High School where he later returned and taught advanced mathematics and served as coach and Athletic Director.  Jim's love of sports was evident throughout his high school and college careers, especially football.  As Athletic Director at Kalamazoo Central High School, he initiated high school girls’ sports in Southwest Michigan; was coach for swimming, wrestling, basketball, and tennis; and served as high school Hockey Commissioner, later admitting to his daughter that, at the time, he didn't know much about that sport!

Jim Estes was a “doer”.  He served his community in numerous ways.  Jim was a member and Board of Education President at Plainwell Schools in Plainwell, Michigan and a member of First Baptist Church in Kalamazoo while living in Michigan.  In the summers, he worked as a surveyor, played golf at Crestview Golf Course in Cooper, Michigan, and loved to camp/travel with his family and friends. When his four children were young, he arranged and hosted swimming lessons with Red Cross for the children of the neighborhood in the backyard in-ground pool.

Jim proudly served in the U.S. Navy.  Because WWII was ending when he enlisted, he remained state-side.  During that time, he attended Western Michigan University and Iowa State University, playing running back and defensive linebacker.

In 1947 Jim married his junior high sweetheart and lifelong friend/partner, Kathleen Williams, and soon afterward built their home near Kalamazoo, where they raised their four children, all responsible, successful, and educated adults in their own respected fields.  James led by example, being a role model for all throughout his life.  Jim's smile was endearing, and as big as his heart.  His competitive nature and subtle humor were just as infectious and teasing to all who met him.

After retirement in 1981, he and his wife of 58 years resided in Lazy Lagoon Village, Punta Gorda, Florida where together they enjoyed their golden years playing golf (always perfecting his swing!) and traveling with his close circle of lifelong friends throughout the country and worldwide.  On June 7, 2010 Jim relocated to Cheboygan Michigan where he was warmly welcomed into Hancock Haven.  His family expanded, soon including the compassionate caregivers at the retirement home, along with the wonderful families of other residents there, and workers at Hospice and Vital Care.  They were his friends and helpers, as were the employees at Cheboygan Hospital's ER and Modern Pharmacy. 

Friday, April 28th marked another special day on Jim's journey in life.  He was homeward bound, and after twelve years of physical separation, reunited with his beautiful, beloved wife Kathleen.

In loving memory,

Stevie, Jeffrey, Dana and his one and only darling daughter, Karen

A Celebration of Life will be at Hancock Haven in Cheboygan, Michigan and burial in Kalamazoo with dates to be determined.  Memorials may be sent to Hancock Haven.

Online condolences may be made at

The Nordman-Christian Funeral Home of Cheboygan, Michigan is caring for the family.

 Service Information

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