James Thomas 'Gunga' Kangas Sr.
April 20, 2023
IRONWOOD TOWNSHIP, Mich. - James Thomas "Gunga" Kangas Sr. was born on Jan. 19, 1944, and died on April 16, 2023, at Little Girl's Point with Marie and Bonny by his side.
He grew up on the family farm, north of the airport, and lived with his parents and brother, Leroy, in Ironwood Township. He attended Roosevelt School, North Bessemer School, and Luther L. Wright High School, graduating with the class of 1962. Gunga continued to be close to his classmates throughout his life. He received his associate degree from Gogebic Community College, a bachelor of liberal arts and teaching from Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, and he went on to receive a masters's degree in guidance and counseling from Northern Michigan University in Marquette.
Jim started his teaching career in Waupun, Wisconsin, where he coached football. He then transferred to Ironwood Area Schools, where he finished off his career. During this time, he taught sixth to eighth grade for several years, then became the guidance counselor for both junior high and then high school. In addition, he was a nighttime advisor for Gogebic County Community School for numerous years. During that time, he was the test administrator for the entire area. The tests he administered were the GED, ACT, and SAT.
Jim was an avid sportsperson. He played Little League, Babe Ruth, middle school football, high school baseball, basketball and tennis. Jim was inducted into the Ironwood Area School Hall of Fame with his high school basketball team. At Gogebic Community College, he played tennis and basketball. At Northland, he played baseball and received a football scholarship. Jim continued to be close to his football teammates from Northland throughout his life.
While at Northland, he was active in the Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity. Jim coached several teams for his kids. These included girls elementary basketball, boys hockey, Little League and Babe Ruth. He also fostered a love of tennis in his three kids by teaching them and watching the sport with them throughout the years. At Ironwood Area Schools, he coached grade school and junior high basketball, and freshman and J.V. at Luther L. Wright High School. He also administered the Township League basketball program at Roosevelt and the Ironwood Township Community Building.
Jim played fast-pitch softball and slow-pitch softball for numerous years as an adult. When his team retired from the slow pitch, they transitioned to golf. He continued to play golf with this group of friends for years. Jim was a current member of the area dartball league with his teammates from Rigoni's Inn. Jim was an avid Detroit Tiger and Detroit Lions fan. He also supported Michigan basketball and football throughout the years. Go Blue! He continued to play a variety of sports with his kids and grandkids throughout the entirety of his life.
Jim loved the outdoors and nature in general. He loved partridge and deer hunting, fishing on Lake Superior, voyaging to Isle Royale with dear friends, and went to the Carp River steelhead fishing annually since high school with the Carp River Boys. His brother LeRoy and Jim chartered a boat out of Black River Harbor. Chopping and preparing firewood was a favorite pastime in the fall.
Jim and Marie traveled extensively. When the kids were young, they traveled throughout the summers and eventually visited 49 states. Some of Jim and Marie's international trips included China, Japan, England, Iceland, Estonia and Mexico. Finland was and always will be in his heart. He loved seeing our beautiful relatives in Finland on both sides and will miss them dearly.
On June 3, 1972, Jim married Marie (née Spets). Jim and Mer celebrated 50 years of marriage in 2022. They had three children, James Jr. "Jimmy," Bonny and Thomas "Thom." They have four grandchildren, Gage, Silas, Bella and Espen. Jim loved being Papa.
He is survived by his wife, Marie; daughter, Bonny; grandsons, Gage, Silas Vosu, Espen Vosu; granddaughter, Bella Kangas; daughters-in-law, Renee Kangas, Sid Vosu, Joelle Steiner (Bella's
Mom); his brother, LeRoy (Shirley) Kangas; in-laws, Ruthie Mlasko, Linda Elaine Spets, Waiko Spets, Art (Sue) Spets, Cindy (Steve) Miller, and Ronnie (Nancy) Spets; along with numerous nieces, nephews, Kangas cousins, and the six Kevari girls he likened to sisters.
He was predeceased by his sons, Jimmy and Thom; his granddaughter, Tuula Vosu; his parents, Tom and Marion Kangas; brother, Raymond; mother-in-law, Ruth Spets; stepfather, Arvo Heikkila; and many close friends.
A celebration of Jim's life will be held on Saturday, May 13, at the Ironwood Township community building. Visitation with the family will be from 10 a.m. to noon, and the service will begin at noon.
The Kangas family has chosen McKevitt-Patrick Funeral Home of Ironwood to honor Jim's legacy of life. You can leave a condolence or a tribute at mckevittpatrickfuneralhome.com.