Our brother, James Marion “Jim” Maehs died Tuesday April 2, 2019, at the Cimarron Nursing Center after a 25-year struggle with Parkinson’s disease.
He had been a resident there for only two weeks. Prior to that, he had been treated in several hospitals for disease-related issues for five weeks.
Jim was born July 15, 1958, to Joseph (Carlos Marion) Maehs and Mary Determan Maehs in Okarche, the youngest of 10 living children.
He was a lifelong resident of Kingfisher.
He graduated from Sts. Peter and Paul Elementary School in 1972 and from Kingfisher High School in 1976. He was a good student, but academics were not his strong suit.
After graduation, he began work with Kingfisher County as a road maintenance equipment operator, eventually working in the county shop as a heavy equipment mechanic. He kept that job with the county for over 30 years until his disease forced him to retire early.
Growing up in a large family provided him with ample opportunities for older sisters to spoil and tease him, and for playmates, the most notorious of whom were Mark and John who completed “The Three Musketeers.” They had many adventures as kids, both east of Kingfisher where we lived when he was born and later at the homes in town.
Jim learned to fish with Grandma and Grandpa Maehs and on one occasion when grandma caught a snapping turtle – yes, our family sometimes ate turtle (“kind of tastes like chicken”) – she gave Jim the clutch of eggs that was inside it. He buried them in the backyard and was surprised a short time later to find they had hatched! The local newspaper printed a photo of him holding one of the tiny creatures. He enjoyed fishing with David and John later in life.
Jim resembled his father, Joe, and, like him, was a man of few words. One on one, he would engage in animated conversation, but in a group, he had little to say. He was very proud of the home he eventually bought on Fifth Street.
He loved to barbecue, so he built a patio onto it with a smoker/grill. He was famous in the family for his brisket.
Jim was a gentle person and had surprising knowledge about a number of subjects including little histories of some Kingfisher residents. He would just quietly pop these nuggets into conversations going on around him. He knew who had lived where, and for how long.
On July 12, 1997, Jim married Sherri Sylvan. He got to be a bit of a grandfather to Sherri’s grandson, which he enjoyed since he had missed out on fatherhood in earlier life. Sherri passed away in 2011.
Jim is survived by five sisters and two brothers: Carol Woitchek, Betty Roberts, Gerry Mathias, Dorothy Hallock, Janis Bart, Mark Maehs and John Maehs.
Besides his wife, Sherri, he was preceded in death by his parents, his brother David Maehs, sister Clara Maehs, and a stillborn sister.
Our family owes an enormous debt of gratitude for the compassionate and loving care our sister Dorothy Hallock provided for Jim in the last years of his life. She took him into her home when he could not live alone, managed his finances, and drove him to many medical appointments.
In the last few months she was especially attentive. She stayed nights in the hospitals, provided updates for the family, and had the sad duty to inform us of his passing.
Wake services will be 7 p.m. Sunday, April 7, at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Kingfisher.
Funeral services will be 10 a.m. Monday, April 8, at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Kingfisher.
Donations in Jim’s name can me made to the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, 825 NE 13th Street, Oklahoma City, OK 73104.