My Dad: James J. Kerski

Grand Junction Free Press

Jim Kerski

Jim Kerski lived 74 years as a son, brother, friend, husband, father, grandfather, and great grandfather. Jim celebrated his new birthday to everlasting life on October 6, 2007. He grew up with three sisters and his parents Joseph and Katherine Kerski in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He served our country with the army in the Korean War. He married the love of his life, Lu Meyer, on January 28, 1956. He moved his family to Grand Junction in 1970, where he owned two successful businesses. Jim lived every day, showing what was most important to him: God, family, sports, music, humor, traveling, hard work, and fun. He lived by quiet example, showing others through actions corresponding with his beliefs and love. Jim now resides in God’s loving arms.

Children include Cathy (Gerry) Lemarr, Mary Jean Kerski, Diane (Mark) Dickey, and Joseph (Janell) Kerski. Grandchildren are Kristin (Steve) Rogers, Michelle (Curt) Clinkenbeard, Nick Lemarr (Lindsay Markley), Laura (Spencer) Stone, Kari (Tyson) Bratcher, Kathleen Kerski, Emily Kerski, Kelsi Lemarr, Ashley Dickey, and Lilia Kerski. Great grandchildren include Alyssa Rogers, Jacob Rogers, Jayden Lemarr, Curtis Clinkenbeard Jr., Liberty Rogers, Kylan Bratcher, Claire Clinkenbeard, and Justice Rogers. Three sisters also survive Jim, Eleanor Semrow, Dorothy Whelan, Barbara Reddy, and their families.

Services to celebrate Jim’s life will be at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, October 12, at 2:30 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts can be made to the American Heart Association or to the American Diabetes Association. Dedications can be written on the website Inurnment will be at Veterans Memorial Cemetery.

We are in sorrow,
he is in total joy-
We see the separation,
he is in the presence
of the Lord.
We know weeping-
he has had all his
tears wiped away.
We share a deep loss,
he gained a crown,
that will not
fade away.
We are aware of his absence,
he has been welcomed
No more pain.
Just joy.
With God in Heaven.

Psalm 25
Your ways, O Lord, make known to me;
teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God, my savior,
and for you I wait all the day.

Remember that your compassion, O Lord,
and your kindness is from of old.
The sins of my youth and my frailties remember not;
in your kindness remember me,
because of your goodness, O Lord.

The Daily Sentinel

Jim Kerski, 74, was born December 16, 1932, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and went to Heaven October 6, 2007.

Jim married Lu Kerski on January 28, 1956, in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. They moved to Grand Junction in 1970 where Jim owned two successful businesses. Children include Cathy (Gerry) Lemarr, Mary Jean Kerski, Diane (Mark) Dickey, and Joseph (Janell) Kerski. They have ten grandchildren and eight great grandchildren, all of whom are the love of their lives.

Services to celebrate Jim’s life will be held at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, October 12, at 2:30 P.M. Inurnment will be at Veterans Memorial Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the American Heart Association or to the American Diabetes Association.


I never thought I knew Dad that well. Maybe it was because he didn’t say much. We drove for quite a ways in silence on our trips to Nevada and Wisconsin together. But those times were some of the best memories that I have. Dad was a person of few words. I can still hear him answer the phone: “Speak.” Most of his comments were along the lines of “Yeppers” and “Sure.”

But Dad had a love of life. I don’t think he believed in doing things halfheartedly. He did everything with exuberance and to the full. He enjoyed visiting Las Vegas so much that he ended up going there not a just few times, but over 200 times. He enjoyed golfing so much that I think he was up to something like 250 different courses in 20 states. He liked sports so much that he had statistics going back 60 years—yes, since he was about 10. Sure, he had a few little books that he kept by his chair, but nearly all of these statistics were in his head. So we have the Internet now. So what? What was in Dad’s head was better than the Internet. He could tell you who pitched left-handed for the SkySox minor league team back in 1975. He liked chocolate milk, pineapple, Benny Goodman, Louis Prima, game shows, the Chicago White Sox, and all sports—baseball, horse racing, basketball, golf, bowling, football, hockey, skiing, swimming—why, he even liked sports that I don’t even know are sports. He knew entire legions of teams and players that I’ve never even heard of.

Dad was the funniest man I ever knew. His whistles and songs made us smile even on ordinary days. Even when driving to junior high school, we had this ritual of seeing the “Sweetie”, the green jeep, the orange car, and fog on the Monument. I have a whole notebook of Dad’s sayings. They won’t mean anything to anyone outside the family, but in my head, for the rest of my life I’ll be cheered by “Be Bop Spoken Here,” “The Little Man with an ear this big”, and “When It’s Apple Blossom Time in East Orange New Jersey, Oh What a Peach of a Pear.” All spoken in Dad’s wonderful voice.

Dad believed in getting loud and excited. He always said those who were calm would outlive him. I guess he was right, but he wouldn’t have had it any other way. We got a little nervous when he would stomp his foot and get carried away at the Horse Races at Uranium Downs when we were kids. The place was kind of old, and I kept wondering if it was going to collapse the next time his horse “Jim’s Play” placed in the trifecta.

Yet there was a lot more to Dad than being funny or getting excited. When you look at his life here on Earth, it really is a quiet story. He spent a lot of time in solitude hauling telephones in the warehouse, working at the motel and in the store, golfing, and driving to and from the golf courses. He was consistently a good model for what a friend, son, brother, Dad, uncle, grandpa, and great-grandpa should be.

However, Dad could be pretty vocal about things. He didn’t like yappy dogs, inflated professional sports salaries, and spicy food. But more importantly, he didn’t like when people were mean to each other. I think he had a keen sense of justice. He always seemed mindful of the brevity and beauty of life, and saw no sense in wasting time on cruelty. Dad was constantly giving. He served his country in Korea during the war. During the last time we would ever talk together on this Earth, at Kari’s wedding, he gave Janell and I some Grand Valley pears.

Dad liked to travel, and I think it is partly because of him that I became a geographer. Once we saw how he had written on the calendar, “UUAA.” Mom and I asked what it meant, and with a little sparkle in his eye, he said “Up Up And Away.” That was the day we were scheduled to fly out on a family vacation. He didn’t go to many exotic places, although he did visit 49 states, but he did like to be on the move. He inspired in me a love of ordinary places. Some of my favorite times with him were spent at the Diamond Distributing Company, buying packets of coffee and paper cups for the motel, driving past the other motels on North Avenue to see if they had No Vacancies, and walking to Lost Lake. Dad always saw the extraordinary in the ordinary, whether it was a song, a sunset, or yellow beans.

But most of all, Dad loved his family. It was 2:40pm on Valentines Day 1987, and I had exited the church sanctuary with Janell Petersen, who had just become my wife. Dad said, “I love you” when I came down the aisle after the ceremony had ended. I’ll always treasure that moment, because Dad was brought up in a family where it must not have been natural to say so out loud. Yet I know—we all know—how he felt about us. I think he was proud of us, and we were all proud to have a Dad like him—a Dad not like any other Dad that I knew when I was growing up, and not like any other Dad I know today. Mom, I, and my sisters all remarked last weekend that we knew Dad was smiling at us, looking down at us holding hands, singing and praying together, the best of friends.

He was James Joseph. I am Joseph James. I’m like him in much more than just our names. We have similar values, we use the same kinds of expressions, we like big band and rock and roll music, like desert, river, and rolling landscapes, and blue clothes. As each year passes, I find other things about myself that I’ve picked up from Dad, and they make me smile.

In our time when we read about unfaithful and deadbeat dads, he was a Dad that we could always count on. We could always depend on him to listen to us at the end of each day. He encouraged us in school and on the job to work hard, do our best, and above all, to develop integrity, wisdom, patience, fairness, and kindness. Even after all of these years in Grand Junction, he still felt very close to his relatives and my mom’s relatives out of state and diligently kept in touch with them. He was faithful to the friends he had since grade school, and greatly enjoyed his grade school reunions. He was a Dad to people besides his own kids, most notably to Katie Kerski, his granddaughter from India. Above all, he was faithful to Mom, and Mom was faithful to him. Together they are the best example of sticking together through sickness and health, joy and sorrow that I know.

Dad had a casual attitude about death. I remember talking with him about 10 years ago: “Dad, pretty soon it will be the year 2000.” “I’ll be dead by then,” he said matter-of-factly. Fortunately, he was with us a few years after that, but I don’t think Dad ever feared dying. He knew the Lord, and Dad knew he was going to be with the Lord in Heaven. He might have known it would be soon; earlier this year, he gave me a ticket he bought for Green Bay to win the 2008 Super Bowl. “Don’t you want to keep this, Dad?” “You keep it,” he said simply. It was the first time he had given me such a thing. I think his Heavenly destination shone ever brighter as the years went by and he faced bodily pains that we don’t even know about.

Here are gathered most of the people who were important to Dad. It’s not a huge group, and it shows that Dad never sought to win a popularity contest. He did what he thought was right; not necessarily what was popular. I never thought about it as a child, but I realize now what a courageous thing Dad had done by moving us to Colorado, away from everyone he knew, and we knew, to start a new life here. If he hadn’t done that, none of us would have had the good life we had here. I wouldn’t have met Janell, and I wouldn’t have these two wonderful daughters that are here today. Dad lived by his convictions. He was a very good man.

I never thought I knew Dad that well. But I was wrong. I knew the most important things about him, after all.

–Joseph Kerski