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James R. Neessen

James Neessen

July 15, 1936 - January 5, 2019

James R. Neessen, age 82, died peacefully, surrounded by loved ones, in Oro Valley, Arizona.

Born on July 15, 1936 at Deaconess Hospital in Marshalltown, Iowa to Lydia Miriam (Harberts) Neessen of Holland, Iowa and James Tilman Neessen of Parkersburg, Iowa. Jim grew up in Iowa, but spent decades of his life in West Bend, WI; Bowling Green and Versailles, KY; and Tucson, AZ.

Jim graduated from East Waterloo High School in 1954, served in the U.S. Army and then graduated from the University of Northern Iowa in 1963. Jim met the love of his life, Carol Jean Deines, a senior nursing student, while visiting a friend in the hospital. After a whirlwind courtship, they married in Greene, Iowa on February 3, 1962 at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, with Carol’s father, the Rev. Ishmael Deines, officiating.

Jim retired from a long and successful career as a human resources executive for a consumer products company. He was a life-long volunteer of his time and talents — through the churches he belonged to, as well as to numerous community and business organizations, and in his later years, at the Tucson VA Hospital.

Jim enjoyed traveling, and a flip through his beloved and well-worn Rand McNally atlas shows how he reached nearly every corner of the United States — in his early years with his three kids pestering each other in the back seat of the wood-paneled station wagon, and later, zig-zagging across the country on countless road trips with his best friend, Carol.

He also toured much of Europe, saw a bit of Asia when he went to meet his grandsons (who were born and were then living in Seoul, Korea), and enjoyed jaunts to Mexico and Canada.

Jim was an avid gardener, and his gardens grew beautifully — gorgeous showcases of his knowledge, passion, and patience — wherever he lived.

Jim leaves behind his devoted wife of nearly 57 years, Carol, three children and two grandchildren — Kathy Sue (John) Neessen Haugh; David James (Kaoru) Neessen and David’s children Nicholas James Neessen and James Roger Neessen II; and Michael James Neessen. His sister Lois (Larry) Neessen Nanke and many nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends also celebrate his life.

He is predeceased by his parents and his sister LuDean Neessen Adler, and the mother of his two grandsons, Sun Pok Neessen.

Per Jim’s wishes, final arrangements are private. Those wishing to honor Jim’s life may make a donation in his name to the Splendido Scholarship Fund, to recognize the young people who brought so much joy to his final years.

Contributions should be made to the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona, with a memo notation: Splendido Residents Association Scholarship in honor of James Neessen.

Community Foundation for Southern Arizona

5049 East Broadway Blvd. Suite 201

Tucson, AZ 85711

Jim’s family wishes to extend its enormous gratitude for all of the love and support received from so many during this time.

To leave a condolence please visit

the life of: In Loving Memory of James Roger Neessen
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