James Milton Connley, 88, entered into eternal life on March 24, 2014, at the Veterans Hospital in Grand Junction, Colorado. He had been lovingly and faithfully cared for by his wife, VeNita, and his youngest daughter, Lynnette Summy and her family as he gradually lost his battle with heart disease.
A Memorial Service is planned at the Evangelical Free Church of Marshalltown on Monday, April 7 at 10:30 a.m. Visitation will be at the Anderson Funeral Homes, 405 W. Main St., Marshalltown, on Sunday from 3:00 - 5:00 p.m. James will be laid to rest with military honors at the Riverside Cemetery.
Jim was born to Marie I. and Milton F. Connley on September 27, 1925, in Marshalltown, Iowa, where he was raised and spent most of his life.
When Jim was 17, he hitch-hiked to Des Moines, Iowa, to enlist in the Marine Corps and was told to come back when he was 18. He replied, "I've told my family good-bye and I'm not going back!" He was put on a train at Ft. Des Moines for bootcamp in San Diego and on to Pearl Harbor for more training. Jim served as an orderly to Admiral Griffen in the Pacific with the 7th Fleet and was in most major sea battles, serving as far north as the Aleutian Islands and south of the equator. He transferred with the admiral from the U.S.S. Wichita to the U.S.S. Minneapolis during this WWll period. He experienced Kamikaze attacks and was fortunate to survive a three day typhoon.
After the war, Jim returned to Marshalltown and began his 38 year career with Iowa Electric Light and Power Co. He began as a lineman and later became District Manager of the TLM program and supervisor over the electric department. After retirement in 1983, he then worked as expansion manager for Central Iowa Water Association until 1992. He served as a liaison in Washington D.C. for both companies and a speech of his is recorded in the Congressional Record.
He married VeNita Crabtree, from Bethany, Missouri, in a double-ring ceremony with her brother and his wife at the Love Chapel in Leon, Iowa, on April 20, 1946. They raised their four daughters in Marshalltown and moved their family from West State Street to a 100 acre farm on West Main Street Road where their girls experienced a bit of farm life and a love of horses.
Jim was a 60 year member of the Evangelical United Brethren Church, later renamed the Grace United Methodist Church, serving as head of the administrative board and later became one of the founders of the Marshalltown Evangelical Free Church.
Community service was important to Jim. He was: the first president of the Central Iowa Square Dance Club, the largest registered club in the world according to the Y; president of the Marshalltown Trailriders Club; active in starting night classes at the Marshalltown Community College; also a Boy Scout leader. He belonged to the Engineer's Club, Noon Kiwanis, VFW and the American Legion.
Active in the American Red Cross serving on the board of the Marshall County Chapter, both Jim and VeNita were trained instructors and specialists in the Red Cross disaster work, with Jim's last assignment aiding with an earthquake in San Francisco. Both Jim and VeNita were pinned by National Red Cross for international assignments.
Jim was a self-taught carpenter, farmer, cattleman, horseman and he loved the West. He was an avid reader, a good listener and an intelligent conversationalist. He was a wise counselor, a loyal patriot and most of all, a Christian.
Jim is survived by his wife of 67 years, VeNita and his four daughters: Jinita (Doug) Boyd, of Marshalltown; Gena (Ed) Graglia, of Marshalltown; Penny (Doug) Pfantz, of Melbourne, and Lynnette (Ron) Summy, of Palisade, Colorado. Also, his sister, Pat (Floyd) Love, of Marshalltown; sister-in-law, Regena Wilfong, of Englewood, Fla.; brother-in-law, Edward Vance (Louise) Crabtree, of Dallas, TX; and sister-in-law, Wilda Crabtree, of Chillicothe, MO. And his nine grandchildren: Kerry (Justin) Anderson, of Alexandria, VA.; James (Shannon) Boyd, of Clive, IA.; Courtney (Bill) Micheel, of Mt Vernon, IA.; Nathanael (Michelle) Graglia, of Humble, TX;, Zachary (Stacy) Pfantz, of Ottumwa, IA.; Brant (Michelle) Pfantz, of Ankeny, IA.; Nicholas (fiancee Carolyn Ring) Pfantz, of Dallas, TX.; Shiloh Summy, of Ft. Collins, CO.; and Nicole Summy, of Grand Junction, CO. He is also survived by thirteen great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents and his older sister, Jacqueline Alexander and her husband, Don.
The family thanks Hospice Care of Western Colorado and the Veterans Hospital of Grand Junction, Colorado for their loving and excellent care of Jim.
Memorials may be sent to the Evangelical Free Church of Marshalltown for a memorial fund or to the family through Anderson Funeral Home who is handling the arrangements.