James Edward O’Rourke, 82, the eldest child of Edward and Margaret O’Rourke’s family of 12, passed away Dec. 5, 2023, in Riverside Community Hospital in California. 

James was born outside of Kendall, Wis., and attended elementary school at Sunny Slope, a one-room schoolhouse outside of Kendall, and later at Black Valley, a one-room school. James graduated from Wilton High School and later joined the Air Force. 

James did his Air Force training at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, and then spent most of his service years at McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey. James was successful in qualifying for his pilot’s license, and some of his training he accomplished while in the Air Force. 

James left New Jersey and headed to California. He met and married Merry Comstack, a California girl, on Dec. 4, 1974. They had two children, Kevin and Christina. They enjoyed camping and dune buggy rides in the hills and deserts when the children were young. 

James’ many flying adventures included several trips from California to Wisconsin, landing on Highway 131 right outside of the farm owned by his brother Timothy. When taking off from his brother Timothy’s farm, he narrowly missed a huge manure pile. On one trip, he landed in the hayfields above his parents’ farm. He also enjoyed a flight or two over the Grand Canyon. There surely were other interesting flying escapades throughout the years of flying. 

James had several jobs over the years, including manager/supervisor of a laundry in Tempe, Ariz., and Houston, Texas, and one in Riverside, Calif., before taking up driving for a diesel fuel delivery company in Riverside. James was a highly respected employee at Bulk Transportation for over 20 years. 

James raised his family in southern California and retired in Colton, Calif. After the death of his wife, Merry, Jim lived a few years with his son, Kevin, and then in assisted living/memory care facilities. 

James is survived by his daughter, Christina, and his son, Kevin, as well as five grandchildren, Timothy, Taevish, Maverick, Liberty and Felix. He is further survived by his siblings, Annette Nehls, Kathleen O’Rourke Benjamin (David), Dennis O’Rourke, Mary Kiel (Rex), Duane O’Rourke (Rita), Carol Schroeder (Robert), Margaret Waege (Dean), Michael O’Rourke, Pat Hawkey; and his sister-in-law, Marilyn O’Rourke. 

James was preceded in death by his wife, Merry; his parents, Edward and Margaret; his brother, Timothy; his sister, Alicia; his grandson, Sheamus; his granddaughter, Theia; and his brothers-in-law, Stuart Nehls and Lyle Hawkey. 

James was a member Christ Redeemer Catholic Church in Grand Terrace, Calif. His funeral will be at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Kendall, Wis., where he went to church for many years. He will be interred in the St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery.

Initial plans are being made to have his funeral May 11, 2024. Confirmation of his information will be published later.