The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

James Joseph Kucera


May 25, 2019

WAKEFIELD, Mich. - James Joseph Kucera, 85, died peacefully May 21, 2019, surrounded by his loving family in Wakefield.

Born in Chicago, on March 31, 1934, he was raised and schooled in Ironwood. In his teens and early 20s, he worked at Johnson's Truck Farm in Ironwood and their second farm in Iron County, Wis., where perennial plants and vegetables were grown for the wholesale and retail markets.

James entered military service with the U.S. Army during the Korean War and underwent basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Miss. He then transferred to Fort Lewis near Tacoma, Wash., where he joined an Army engineer battalion.

Following military service, he returned to work at the truck farm for several years and also worked at a cranberry marsh near Fifield, Wis.. Jim was then hired locally by the P.J. Nickel and Angelo Luppino firms and did general contracting in the area and across the Great Lakes region until his retirement on March 31, 1996.

Jim found great pleasure in any outdoor work. Lessons learned during his truck farming days stayed with him as he gardened throughout the rest of his life. He produced prize winning field crops that were displayed at the Gogebic County Fair, sprouts from his perennial flower plants, many originating from stock grown in the early 1950s, are enjoyed in the gardens of family and friends today.

A motorcycle enthusiast and stock car racer in his 20s, he was often on the road on a classic Harley-Davidson or Indian cycle, steering for Duluth or Green Bay to attend concerts by country music greats, including his favorite performer, Johnny Cash. During that period Jim raced stock cars at the old Gogebic County Fairgrounds track and the Ashland Speedway. He enjoyed Toby Keith's music and concerts in later years.

Always a problem solver, he enjoyed designing and building things to make life easier for himself and those around him, family, friend or neighbor. He always knew when help was needed and was there to lend a hand.

Jim is survived by his wife, Barbara "Bobbie" (Mazzon) Kucera; his brothers, G. Donald Kucera of Tucson, Ariz. and Philip (Judy) Kucera of Ironwood; and his children, Lisa (Matt) Johnson of Saginaw, Minn., Christine Ozzello of Hurley, Wis., Marcella "Mike" Siirila, of Ironwood, and James Robert Kucera, of Ironwood. He is also survived by stepchildren and his special friend, Darrell (Sharon) DeMarte of Manitowish Waters, Wis., James Siirila of Ironwood, Lucille (Bob) Davis of Ironwood and Stacy (Kenneth) Johnson of North Ogden, Utah. Jim also is survived by 17 grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren, nieces and more friends than anyone could count.

Jim was preceded in death by his first wife, Pearl Mary (Hotchkiss) Kucera; infant son, James Joseph Kucera Jr .; and by his parents, George and Elsie (Krainak) Kucera.

A memorial service will be held at McKevitt-Patrick Funeral Home at 305 N. Lowell St. in Ironwood at 11 a.m. on Friday, May 31, preceded by a visitation from 10 a.m . until service time. Lunch will follow at Manny's, 316 E Houk Street in Ironwood.

Family burial at Riverside Cemetery in Ironwood at a later date.

If you would like to make a donation in Jim's memory to the Range Master Gardener's Association, the address is: 300 Taconite St., Suite 118, Hurley, Wisconsin 54534. The Association is a civic organization for Iron and Gogebic counties that improves the community through garden and horticultural activities.

McKevitt-Patrick Funeral Home, Ironwood, is assisting the family. For more information or to express online condolences, please visit


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