James P Skarda
Apr. 27, 1923 - Oct. 22, 2017
Chilton, WI
Funeral Service:
Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017
3:00 pm
Wieting Family Funeral Home
411 W. Main St.
Chilton, WI 53014
Funeral Visitation:
Friday, Oct. 27, 2017
4:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Wieting Family Funeral Home
411 W. Main St.
Chilton, WI 53014
Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017
11:00 am - 2:45 pm
Wieting Family Funeral Home
411 W. Main St.
Chilton, WI 53014
Public Story Time:
Friday, Oct. 27, 2017
7:00 pm
Wieting Family Funeral Home
James P Skarda
Chilton, WI

Surrounded by his family, James P. “Jim” Skarda left planet earth for the final time in his home at 42 E. Brooklyn Street, in Chilton, WI on October 22, 2017. He was 94 years old. Jim was born on April 27, 1923 at the home of his parents, Paul and Caroline (nee Rynes) Skarda, in Ontario, WI. At the time it was thought by the normal run of humanity that if a stable was good enough for Jesus to be born, then home was more or less a luxury.
Jim was a lifelong educator, mentor, and champion of students, teachers, and everyone he met. He knew everyone had a life story, and he was eager to hear it. He valued all people and found goodness in each and every one of them. Jim found the time to make everyone feel special while being humble himself. He never lost his love of learning, asking questions, or baseball.
Jim’s life followed many paths before his eventual arrival in Chilton. In 1940 he graduated from Kendall High School as the salutatorian. In the wake of the Great Depression and without a way to pay for college, Jim joined the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in Viroqua, WI. There he worked alongside other young men in a quarry until he replaced the outgoing supply sergeant when they found out Jim could type. After securing early discharge from the CCC, Jim and his dear friend Ray Surwillo rode a bus to Chicago to work in a factory. It was there where Jim heard about the attack on Pearl Harbor, and as American involvement in the war became assured, Jim knew he would enlist.
Initially, Jim planned on joining the Marines, but as fate would have it, they were out to lunch when he visited their recruitment office. The Navy recruiter across the hall saw him and said, “Hey son, do you want to join?” and so he did despite not knowing how to swim. He was assigned to the USS Joseph B Hewes where he held the rank of Pharmacist Mate First Class. On November 11, 1942 the ship was sunk by a Nazi submarine’s torpedo off the coast of Casablanca. Jim clung to two wooden beams through the night until he was picked up by a rescue boat whose men exclaimed, “We got a big one!” as they pulled him out of the water. After returning home on leave to put his beloved mother’s heart at ease, Jim was stationed in Northern Ireland where his favorite memory was playing baseball with the Navy Marine team.
After his service in the Navy, Jim returned to his home in LaCrosse, WI where he had the opportunity to further his education thanks to the GI Bill. He both studied and worked full time. While working at the movie theatre one day, he got a surprise visit from a woman he knew; he had first met Adelaide “Pat” Parker in Quantico, VA where she smoothly asked him, “Can I buy you a Coke, Sailor?” Distance had not kept them apart long, and they were married April 27, 1946. Shortly after, Jim and Pat had two sets of twins in 11 months, an event known then as the “Miracle on Myrick Park Lane”. The first set of twins was James and Jane born in December of 1946 followed by John and Joan in November of 1947. In 1949, Jim graduated from the Wisconsin Teachers College in LaCrosse with a BS in History and Social Studies. He took a job at Black River Falls High School as a history teacher and guidance counselor where he worked until 1965. Throughout his career at Black River Falls, Jim continued his education and earned a Master’s in Guidance and Counseling in 1953.  In 1957, Jim and Pat welcomed their daughter Janet.
After Black River Falls, Jim and Pat found their true home in Chilton where he took the position of guidance counselor at Chilton High School. He was forever grateful to Superintendent A.W. Gordon for giving him the opportunity to pour his heart and soul into Chilton High School and to his secretary Millie Mortimer for being his right hand “man”. Mr. Skarda was a friend to all, and in 1970, he became the principal of his beloved school. He spent morning, noon, night, and weekends at school. He was involved in many activities including coaching baseball, advising clubs and activities, participating in homecoming tree “decorating”, and using his booming voice to announce basketball games. Mr. Skarda believed in having an open door policy where anyone could stop into his office to talk. He was always ready to listen.
In 1990, Jim himself finally graduated from Chilton High School when he retired as principal. After his retirement, Jim spent more time with his beloved wife Pat until her passing in 2000. His family was fortunate to receive most of his boundless love and attention after he retired, but he still continued to share it with the community at large, and that community included people everywhere he went. He was a passionate member of the library board, the mental health committee, the American Legion, the Retired Teachers Association, a Friend of Ledge View, and countless other associations in Chilton. Jim loved Chilton, and he knew that it was his home base. He sought to better Chilton through his efforts, and even when he was not participating in an official capacity, Jim made it his daily mission to bring a smile to your face and a song to your ear.
Although he spent most of his life living in small towns, his outlook and understanding were never small minded. He understood your mistakes; he made them too. He knew your regret and guilt; he had plenty. His personal life was often a struggle, and he used those experiences not to pity himself but to help him understand the adversity we all face. Even when he developed macular degeneration, he found strength in the saying, “I cried when I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.” He led with his heart and followed with his mind. Coach, helper, fixer of people and things. Lover of reading, soul food, gardening, and sports. An inwardly reverent man. Always questioning, always challenging. Always pushing himself and others to do better and to be better. But give yourself credit…Jim would. And whether you knew him as Jim, Mr. Skarda, Cheap Jim, Boppy, Dad, Grandpa, Gramps, or any other name acquired through his roles in life, know that he loved you all and was loved by all of you. The “sailor who couldn’t swim” was our safe harbor. Lastly, Jim reminds you to be good to each other and to have an interesting, exciting, extraordinary day!
Family meant the world to Jim, and he would want everyone to know that he is survived by his sister: Kay Brieske; his children: Jane (Joseph) Barany of Chilton, WI, John (Renee) Skarda of Flower Mound, TX, Janet Skarda of Kewaskum, WI, and his daughter-in-law, Karen Skarda of Fond du Lac, WI; his grandchildren: Mike (Debbie) and James (Diana);  Dallas, James, Shari, John, Michael, and David; Bradley, Jeffrey, and Daniel; Mark and Jason; and Jonathan (Catherine), Kathryn (Chad), Daniel, and Lindsay (Sergio); and his 24 great-grandchildren. His first great-great grandchild is expected in December.
Preceding Jim to their final destinations were his parents Paul and Caroline, his beloved wife of 54 years, Pat, his brother Donald, his son James, his daughter Joanie, and his granddaughters Jaime and Patricia.
On behalf of Jim, his family would like to extend special thank you’s to Calumet County Hospice, Almost Family, Jill Schabach, Eddie and Julie Berg, Lauri Hansen, and Wieting Funeral Home for all of their love and care.
Funeral services are set for Saturday, October 28, 2017, at 3:00pm at the Wieting Family Funeral Home (411 W. Main St.) in Chilton. Friends may call from 4:00pm until 7:00pm on Friday, October 27, at the funeral home, and again at the funeral home from 11:00am until 2:45pm on Saturday, October 28. There will be a time to share stories about Jim following the visitation Friday evening. In honor of Mr. Skarda’s love of Chilton High School, visitors are encouraged to wear the school’s colors of blue and gold. In lieu of flowers, a memorial fund has been established in Jim’s loving memory.
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I liked Mr. Skarda very much. My family lived just down the street from him, so I had the honor of babysitting for some of his children. I am remembering that at one time they lived in that weird white house going up towards the school. Then they moved to the big brick house on Madison Street. I think he just wanted to keep his eyes on the school, LOL.
I also remember when Paula Lutz had leukemia. When she collapse in school, I believe that it was Mr. Skarda who carried her out. He was a wonderful my and I am sure will be greatly missed. My condolences to all the friends and family.

Barbara (Nohr) Loomer (Student at Chilton High School, Class of 1973) - Nov. 1, 2017

I served with Jim for years working on library services for Calumet County. He always exercised good judgment and truly had the best interests of CC library users as his first priority. A great man!

Mary Muellenbach (Stockbridge) - Oct. 31, 2017

“Mr. Skarda” was my guidance counselor at Chilton High School. He always, always encouraged. I got through UW-Madison and had a fulfilling career. He provided the nudge.

Barbara Wagner (Student) - Oct. 30, 2017

Never contacted me, my brother( his grandson ) Jason, or our kids(his great grandkids). RIP Gramps

Mark Skarda (Grandson) - Oct. 29, 2017

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to travel to Chilton with my husband John to visit his dad. It was an honor to meet and get to know Jim, and in the summer vacations our family spent with him in Chilton, he became Dad to me too. He was so full of life, even riding a roller coaster with us at the age of 87 years! Everywhere we went, people knew him and stopped to talk, a big smile on their faces! He showed us his beloved town and all his favorite places, and even though he couldn't see, his camera was always ready to capture the moment. Our granddaughters Hannah and Kami still reminisce about our adventures with Great Granddaddy Skarda in Chilton. Dad Skarda, you will be missed! I pray for his loved ones, that they will have peace in their hearts at this sad time.

Renee Skarda (Daughter-in-law) - Oct. 28, 2017

So true about always having time to listen. Sympathies to his children.

Bonnie Johnson (Student from BRF ) - Oct. 27, 2017

Great man and excellent role model

Dave vande voort (Teacher at CHS) - Oct. 27, 2017

I met Him in the final months of his life.He was a fine man,gentle and loving who appreciated everything that was done for him.Jim remained an educator to the end,applauding a well turned phrase,fresh opinion or New idea.Daily visits always included lovely conversation,takes of days gone by,songs and many smiles.It was a privilege to care for Him and I was fortunate to call him my friend.

Laurie Hansen (Caregiver and friend) - Oct. 27, 2017

Mr Skarda was an amazing principal at CHS. He had a kind but larger than life personality. He provided great guidance to many students. He was an inspiration!

Lisa cribben (Woelfel) (Student at CHS) - Oct. 26, 2017

I became acquainted with Jim and his family when we were neighbors in Black River Falls. Upon leaving BRF he went to Chilton, where I graduated from High School. My Superintendent
and Chemistry teacher was A. J. Gordon. So I have great memories of Mr. Skarda and his family. My deepest sympathy. Bless be James memory. Peace to the family. Nyla (Bock) Musser.

Nyla (Bock) Musser (Neighbor and friend) - Oct. 26, 2017

I was Jim's daughter-in-law for almost 32 years. I regret not reaching out to him the last few years, as he was always such a great human being and good to my family. My granddaughter Hannah had the opportunity to meet him when she was very young. She called him "grandpa" and loved him very much. Jim was such a loving and giving man and we will always remember him fondly. I know where Jim is he is smiling at all the outpouring of love and respect we all have for him. Rest in Peace, Jim Skarda

Susan Skarda (Daughter-In-Law) - Oct. 26, 2017

I often have told my kids I coached, parents and other coaches: "Never underestimate the influence you can have on a young person's life." That creed definitely applies to Mr. Skarda. Lets honor him by doing the same. Maybe, just maybe, we can make a difference one life at a time.

Peter Forstner (CHS '80 graduate) - Oct. 26, 2017

Mr. Skarda ruled in my favor for my first oral arguments as a sophomore back in 1985 that caps should be allowed to be worn at school. Ruling in our favor. Yay! Mr. Skarda, you were an amazing mentor, coach, leader at CHS and made a huge impact in my life! Thank you!

Pam Schneider (Student) - Oct. 25, 2017

Mr. Skarda would call me occasionally during my time as Superintendent to check on how I was doing, offer his encouragement and advice. He nicknamed me "Pepper Martin" after a famous baseball player - or so he said. Every interaction I had with him was delightful, informative and a pleasure to share his time/company. He was a dear man that will be greatly missed by so many

Claire Martin (Former Chilton Superintendent ) - Oct. 25, 2017

Mr. Skarda is a person who made a mark in the right directions in many people lives. His smile would always put you at ease. He genuinely cared what you had to say. Not just when we were students but throughout the years after.I looked forward to seeing him at the store. His smile and remembering things from school years long gone was fun to listen too. He cared so much to know what was going on in our grown up lives too! Thank you Mr. Skarda for being a great impression in my life. I will trully miss you! With your passing it reminds us time moves quickly. To his family: you have my sympathy and prayers. And thanks for sharing your dad with so many throughout the years.

Linda Tasch (Former student) - Oct. 25, 2017

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