James Michael Sobieski, 55 of Oxford, WI, passed away on Monday, November 25, 2019 at the Zablocki VA Medical Center in Milwaukee. Our beloved son, brother, teacher, and army veteran passed away, surrounded by his siblings, without pain, from complications of lung cancer. A nonsmoker, James had a brief and courageous battle with cancer after being diagnosed in early July, 2019.
He was born on August 31st, 1964 to Shirley M. Sobieski and Norbert J. Sobieski in Milwaukee. He was the 4th of 6 children. James grew up in Muskego on forty beautiful acres and had fun participating in all sorts of outdoor activities with the family.
As a child, James enjoyed growing up on the small family farm, tending to the cows, pigs and other farm animals, and also had a profound love for nature. He and his siblings had many enjoyable times together ice skating, baling hay, and sometimes even riding the pigs to the dismay of their mother.
He graduated from Muskego High School in 1982, where he was an excellent athlete and student. James was a state competitor in wrestling and was a top notch baseball player. After high school, he worked for a short time at Wiza Industries in Muskego.
James was very patriotic, joining the army reserves and reaching the rank of Sergeant First Class. He served overseas in Bosnia and Iraq as a rail transportation specialist. Shortly after arriving in Iraq, his convoy was hit by a roadside bomb, which took the lives of several American soldiers. This event changed his life forever. While overseas in the dangerous war-torn areas of Bosnia and Iraq, James was mostly concerned about his mother and other family members. That’s the kind of guy he was. James honorably and proudly served our country for 17 years in the Army Reserve.
In 1996 he graduated from Carrol College with a degree in education and then began teaching at Queen of Apostles Catholic School in Pewaukee. James taught both middle school and elementary school during his 23 years of teaching.
He combined his love of sports and teaching as a volleyball coach for girls, first in Pewaukee, and then for the Westfield school district where he eventually became the Westfield head volleyball coach. He was a tough, yet loving coach for “his girls”. After learning of his illness, the Westfield volleyball girls and their families showered James with cards and gifts, including “a box of sunshine”. This past October, the tiny community of Westfield, population 1,254, raised several thousand dollars for James at the “Volleyball for Vets” volleyball games that James had always organized. This time, he was the most honored veteran. The family is so thankful for these wonderful people!
He was particularly fond of the Apostle Islands school field trip he organized with Westfield colleague, Jeff Steckbauer. For several years, James helped organize and lead a field trip for some forty 7th graders,camping on an island with no electricity or running water. He loved sharing this outdoor experience with the kids and always looked forward to it.
Most of all, James loved being a teacher and girls volleyball coach, dedicating his life to working with students in the classroom and on the volleyball court. He was an excellent role model for all of his students and “his girls’ on the volleyball team. Being in the small school district of Westfield, James was able to watch his students grow and mature year by year. He loved them all, and they loved him back.
In the last 5 months of his life, all of his siblings and mother lovingly cared for him in the Milwaukee area, being too ill to live at his home in Oxford. Compassionate Care workers David, Kaitlin, Ally, and others via the VA Medical Center, also lovingly tended to his medical and other needs. The family is immensely grateful for the love and care they gave James.
He is survived by his mother, Shirley Sobieski and 5 siblings, Denise Marie Sobieski (Bill Mitchell), John Sobieski, (Tina Mayer), Roseann Campbell (Kent), William Sobieski (Yvonne), and Stephen Sobieski (Jodi); 9 nieces and nephews, John Sobieski, Jr. (Autumn), Eddie Sobieski, Deanna Sobieski, Katie Sobieski, Samantha Mayer, Sarah Krickeberg (Jovoni), Michael Campbell, Anastasia Sobieski, and Clayton Sobieski; two great nephews, Lance Keenan Krickeberg and Noah Daniel Sobieski; and many friends, colleagues and students.
He was preceded in death by his father and beloved orange tabby, Bruno.
A celebration of James’s life will take place at the Integrity Celebration Center in Burlington on Friday, December 6th, 2019 with visitation from 11:30 – 1:45 pm, followed by a 2:00 pm Memorial Service with full Military Honors. James’s remains will be interred at a later date at the Southern Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Union Grove.
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