James Robert Wambeke was born on July 17, 1936, in Minneota, to Ferdinand and Margaret (DeCock) Wambeke. Jim graduated from Minneota High School. He enlisted and served in the U.S. Army from 1955 – 1958, with much of his time spent in Germany. After his honorable discharge, he returned to Minneota. On November 5, 1958, he was united in marriage to Jean Hamerlinck at St. Edward Catholic Church. Jim was a Master Plumber and owned and operated Wambeke’s Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning. He was very creative and talented, and patented several plumbing inventions. He served on the Minneota Fire Department as Fire Chief and volunteer fireman for many years. He belonged to the American Legion Post 199. He enjoyed gardening, bird watching, playing golf and following state and local sports. Jim was most passionate about his family and enjoyed their many gatherings.
Jim died on Tuesday, June 2, 2020, at the Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center in Marshall surrounded by family. He is survived by his wife, Jean, of Minneota, daughter Sandy (and Kevin) Minnehan, of Minneota, grandson Brad (and Robyn) Minnehan, their children Madison, Parker and Mason, granddaughter Brooke (and Trent) Hennen, their children Olivia and Oaklee, son Greg Wambeke (and Konitha and her children Andy and Mellie) of Jordan, daughter Sharon (and Paul) Claeys of Ghent, daughter Suzanne (and Matt) Claeys of Dallas, TX, siblings Dorothy Vlaminck, Marian Dau, Jeannie Miller, Gloria (and Joe) Lanners, Mary (and Leroy) Neuman, Bill (and Donna) Wambeke, Dennis (and Judy) Wambeke, in-laws Pauline Wambeke, Janet Wambeke, Hamerlinck in-laws Joyce Downing, Judy Hamerlinck (and Tom), Cletus (and Lorraine) Lanners, nieces, nephews, relatives and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents, siblings Joe and Richard, in-laws Gaston Vlaminck, Gene Dau, Darrill Miller and Bob Hornstein, nephew Tom Vlaminck and great-nephew Shea O’Neil, Hamerlinck in-laws Alfonce and Elsie Hamerlinck, Ernie and Jane Louwagie, Joanne Lanners, Janet Collins, Fuzzy Downing, nieces Joyel Downing and Abby Satterfield.
Jim’s family would especially like to thank the staff at The Minneota Manor that cared for and helped make his quality of life so meaningful for the last 1½ years. The family is also thankful for the compassionate care Jim received in his final days at Avera Marshall.