LA CROSSE — James Lee Havlicek, passed away Thursday, March 2, 2017. He was born in La Crosse, Dec. 4, 1934, to Edward and Alice (Bruha) Havlicek.
Dad took an apprenticeship for tool and die making at Machine Products after graduating from Aquinas High School in 1953. He was drafted into the Army in 1956, and finished his apprenticeship after serving for two years in the military, one year of which was in Germany with the Redstone missile program. When he was granted leave time during his stint in the army, he traveled Europe by train extensively, taking more pictures than any Russian spy plane of the day. Later, after converting these pictures into several filmstrips, this reconnaissance proved completely effective at helping his children to fall asleep at night. After completing his apprenticeship, he went on to work as a tool and die craftsman for 20 years at Iland Tool & Die, Northern Engraving, Lake Center Switch and Luxco. He then made a career change to teach tool and die making at Western Technical College in La Crosse for 20 years, before he retired in 2001. While working at WTC he attended Winona State College and received his BS degree in education at the age of 50.
In 1988, he purchased 66 wooded acres near Black River Falls and began his dream project of building a retirement log cabin. He spent countless hours with family and friends constructing the cabin, and then added a major addition in 2005, with Joanne by his side. He loved to deer hunt, having several tree stands and one highly successful Lazy Boy recliner, but mostly he loved to simply watch the deer as they wandered near the cabin.
After marrying Joanne, Dad started his second career as a gifted silversmith making, selling, and often simply giving away handmade sterling silver jewelry in Wisconsin and Sun City West, Arizona. Dad was an active member of the Toy-Ki Silver-craft club. Dad and Joanne enjoyed many years of being snowbirds between Sun City West and Black River Falls.
He spent the last 14 years with the constant companionship of his loving wife, Joanne, with whom he again traveled extensively, including returning to Europe. In 2010, Dad and Joanne traveled to the Czech Republic, including visiting our namesake city Havlickuv Brod, the Eagle’s Nest in Austria, and Munich, Germany.
He married Lois Stachowitz in 1960, and was pre-deceased by her in 1999.
He is survived by three children, Andrea, Penn Valley, Calif., Jim, La Crosse, John, La Crosse; 12 grandchildren, Kyle, Elma, Wash., Amy, Calif., Philip, Portland, Ore., (currently in Fort Lee, Va., with the National Guard), Alex, Carina, Teresa, Anthony and Cecily, all of Penn Valley, Jason, Park City, Utah, Nick, Madison, Wis., Ben, La Crosse, Madalyn, La Crosse; and recently, his first great-grandchild, Aria Fae, seven months, Penn Valley.
A funeral Mass will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 25, at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Black River Falls.
Donations may be given in memory of James to St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Black River Falls. Please join James’s family in sharing memories, pictures or videos on his tribute wall at www.caminodelsol.com.