On September 19th, 2023, James (Jim) Edward Zima signed off on a life full of very few regrets, unwavering friendships, endless stories that were hard to believe there was much truth to them, and a family full of his number one fans. For the last few years Jim battled lung cancer, taking it head on and never backing down. He refused to let that or any other health issue slow him down.
God thankfully broke the mold when Jim was born in Manitowoc, WI on June 12th, 1940 to the late Joseph (Joe) and Rose Zima. He is survived by his sister, Corrine (Zima) Schweda who resides in Krakow, WI and her four daughters. Growing up, Jim's larger-than-life personality created an inordinate number of lifelong friendships. One of his very best friends, cousin, and life-long wingman, Matt Zima, created many memories through their shenanigans. Posing as the Zima brothers, they convinced a bar full of younger adults that they created the drink Zima and were seeing how it was faring. Hook, line, and sinker - they became the two most popular people in the bar doing the Zima Shuffle and drank for free the rest of the night. Their crazy charades, along with many others that Jim created with his army of friends and his family, will continue to be told for generations.
After graduating from Premontre High School in 1958, Jim joined the Navy where he served on active duty until 1961 and in the active reserve until 1964. When in the active reserve in Green Bay, Jim third wheeled with his buddy and his date to the bar, The Prom. Later in the evening, he swept his buddy's date, Sharon Rebitski, off her feet and the rest is history as he had found the love of his life. Sharon later married him and spent the next five decades doing her best to keep him in line, joining him on many adventures, building a loving family, and creating many stories themselves until her passing on January 3rd, 2018.
When honorably discharged from the Navy, Jim joined the Green Bay Press Gazette as a sports writer where he retired 40 years later, but continued to pen his bowling column for another decade. One of his most memorable beats was covering the Ice Bowl in 1967. His love of sports spilled over to youth baseball where he coached Little League baseball for 17 years and was the recipient of the Red Smith Award for his support of community youth sports organizations. He also received the Ray Mihm Award for the betterment and promotion of bowling as well as was inducted into the Green Bay Bowling Hall of Fame.
Jim was arguably diagnosed with "ants in his pants" as he was never one to sit down for too long, unless it was to enjoy a Wisconsin Old Fashion with friends at the Pump Room, a Tiki Bar, or various other establishments. He was a long-term member of the Northeastern Wisconsin Beagle Club, Member of the Moose Lodge 801, and Member of the American Legion Austin Straubel Post 11.
Growing up as one of Jim's kids presented few, if any, dull moments. He parented with a motto of "family first." His sons, Jay and Tim, spent their formative years following in their father's footsteps in many ways. Jim made time to teach them how to hunt, fish, and play baseball. His daughter, Deb Hussain, completed the trio. He supported her love of basketball and volleyball, but more importantly, Jim made sure she had the confidence to take on the world and enough grit to beat all the boys. Every spare moment was spent with the family boating, snowmobiling, or spending summers in Door County.
Jim truly embraced his role as Grandpa, better known as "Poppers," to Bryson Milis, Graham and Sydney Zima, & Caleb and Audrey Hussain. He took great pride in each one of them while also teaching them some of his most treasured talents like how to mix a proper Wisconsin Old Fashion, how to dance, and how to love life. He was a road warrior to go and see Bryson play a soccer game, Graham in a play, Sydney on the ice, Caleb play a soccer game, or Audrey play a softball game. His heart burst with pride and joy as he cheered them on.
Jim touched so many lives through his brilliant and unmatched ability to tell a story and to light up a room with his presence.
A Memorial Mass will be at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, November 11, 2023, at St. Matthew's Parish, 130 Saint Matthews Street, Green Bay, WI 54301. A Celebration of Life will follow from 12:30 p.m. until 3:30 p.m. at Graystone Ale House, 3711 Monroe Road, De Pere, WI 54115.