James F. Erland, 87, passed away February 19, 2017, in hospice care, at the home he built, surrounded by his family and care-givers. A "Celebration of Life" will be held on Saturday, at 2 pm, April 22nd, at St. Margaret's Church. An inurnment will follow the service at Clinton Cemetery.
Born in Ottumwa, Iowa, September 30, 1929, of Swedish descent, he was the son of Lucile Karenna Lenore Carlson and John Arthur Erland, who was a partner in the local Tru-Fit Shoe Company, co-founded by his grandfather John Erland in 1903 in Ottumwa. Jim spent his early youth working part-time at the Tru-Fit shoe company learning how to personalize customers' shoe needs.
He attended Ottumwa high school, lettering in football and basketball, graduating in 1947. He attended Iowa State University, graduating in Industrial Economics in 1951. At Iowa State, he played on the college basketball team, but suffered a serious ankle break that ended his college athletic dream.
Jim was a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity where he served as Rush Chairman, and was also a member of their flying club that owned four aircraft. As a pilot, he frequently flew college mates to the University of Kansas-Iowa State games in Lawrence, including the 1952 NCAA KU Championship Game. He also conducted flying air demonstrations for Iowa State football games.
Upon graduating from Iowa State Jim worked in the Purchasing Department at Cline Electric Manufacturing Company in Chicago. The company fabricated machine and bomber engine parts for the Korean War. Jim worked at Cline Electric for one year before he was drafted into the US Army in 1952.
Jim served two years in the Army during the Korean War, stationed in the Philippine Islands. Based on his administrative and engineering credentials from Iowa State University, he served with the 29th Topographic Engineering Battalion that reconstructed the islands following World War II.
Jim returned home to work with Conoco Oil Company as a Sales Representative for the Des Moines, Iowa district, living in Scottsbluff and Lincoln NE, and also worked in Kansas City as a Conoco-Phillips Commercial Real Estate Broker, acquiring land for service stations.
In 1971, Jim transferred to Lawrence with his family, and retired in 1982, following open heart surgery. Maintaining his real estate broker's license, he worked with Stephen's Real Estate until 2008, and stayed licensed until 2013.
Jim had an active working life-style having been a throat cancer and two open heart surgeries survivor. He was an avid golfer, playing in many golf tournaments in the Midwestern area.
He was a founding partner in 1981, with his wife Jan, of Mem-ExSpan, Inc. cognitive skills advancement training. For many years, he worked for Mem-ExSpan with advertising and marketing endeavors, traveling and setting up thirteen national test sites.
Married 58 years, Jim leaves his wife, Janis Kuyper of Pella, Iowa, of the home. He is survived by three children Mark James Erland (wife Carla) of San Clemente, CA, Christina Lucile Erland Culver of Washington DC, and Cynthia Joy Erland, of South Pasadena, California; three grandchildren; Estelle Erland Rubin of Los Angeles, and Nicholas James and Samuel Neal Erland of San Clemente, CA.
Since 1971, Jim was a member of Trinity Episcopal Church, serving on the vestry, and for many years as head usher. In 1973, the family with other church members created a vacation Bible school "Teddy Bear's Picnic" puppet show that then toured schools and nursing homes.
Expanding the project, Jim built a complete stage for the family, and he and the Erland family wrote original humorous scripts, created costumes and music for a new show named "the Voco Poco Puppets". This family show offered special events for Kansas City and Topeka shopping centers and department stores from 1975-1980.
Jim was an early pioneer in launching St. Margaret's Episcopal church, and later also joined the First Presbyterian Church. He was also a member of the Elks Lodge and the American Legion.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Visiting Nurses Association, and St. Margaret's Episcopal Church in charge of Rumsey-Yost, P.O. Box 1260, Lawrence, KS 66044.
Online condolences may be sent at rumsey-yost.com.
Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home & Crematory
601 Indiana St
Lawrence, KS 66044
Published in Lawrence Journal-World on Apr. 16, 2017