Jim Oakley, 66 |
Jim Oakley was born Nov. 20, 1949, in West Bend, the son of Barbara (Matteson) and John Oakley. He died peacefully at home in Ashland on May 24, 2016, after a dogged and frustrating struggle with ALS.
He was raised in Beaver Dam, where he was a Boy Scout, drum major and an active member of St. Marks Episcopal Church. He acquired a love of the Spanish language from his grandmother, Mary, during frequent trips to California. He graduated valedictorian from Beaver Dam High School in 1967 and from Carthage College in Kenosha in 1971 with a BA in Spanish. Throughout his life, he traveled extensively through Mexico, Central and South America, and other countries.
He served in the Peace Corps from 1972 to 1974 on the island of Grenada, teaching Spanish. He returned to Grenada in 1976 after earning an MA in Spanish from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He married Doreen John of St. Georges, Grenada, in 1977. They had one son, Bill Oakley, born in 1978. They were divorced in 1988.
Jim returned to Wisconsin in 1980 where he taught Spanish in the West Bend middle schools for 23 years. He was active in WEAC (Wisconsin Education Association Council), serving as president of his local. He was state president of WAFLT (Wisconsin Association For Language Teachers) and a member of the the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. He was involved with the Kettle Moraine Symphony Orchestra, the Musical Masquers of West Bend and the River City Irregulars.
Jim married Anne Chartier in 2002 at the family cabin that he loved and cared for in Vilas County and was his favorite place to be and jump in the lake. He retired from West Bend schools and moved to Ashland, where he was a substitute teacher, a Spanish instructor through WITC and an elected member of the Ashland County Board of Supervisors. He volunteered for Faith in Action doing many hours of yard work and snow shoveling. He was on stage at StageNorth and CTA, played percussion with the Chequamegon Symphony and demonstrated his deep love of the arts by supporting many local performers and artists.
Jim was an enthusiastic and dedicated educator. He organized several exchange visits between students in Wisconsin and Badajoz, Spain. He maintained contact with more than 500 family members, former students and friends through semi-regular email updates. He was always supportive of family and friends. He enjoyed reading news, listening to public radio and watching the PBS NewsHour. He loved Scrabble, crossword puzzles and puns. Jimís concerns included social justice and the environment, and he was a member of the League of Women Voters. He was a life-long progressive Episcopalian, talented gardener and was noted for his patience, generosity, understanding, discretion and keen sense of humor.
Jim is survived by his wife Anne, son Bill Oakley of Chicago, brother Charles Oakley of San Diego, Aunt Ilene Matteson of Nevada, Anneís siblings and many other family and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents. A celebration of his life will be held at St. Andrews in Ashland at noon on Saturday, July 16. Memorials in lieu of flowers can be directed to Episcopal Relief, The Groundlings, CTA or WAFLT.