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April 4, 1919 - January 7, 2017

James Odell Wangen, age 97, of rural Lanesboro, passed away on January 7, 2017, at St Mary’s Hospital, Rochester, MN.

James was born April 4, 1919, to Edward O and Bertha (Olson) Wangen on their farm in Amherst Township, Fillmore County, Minnesota. James was the second child, and oldest son, of 10 children. James was baptized, confirmed, and life-long member at Elstad Lutheran Church, rural Lanesboro, MN. He attended school through 8th grade at Dirken Country School, rural Lanesboro. James worked on the farm for his father before working as a hired farm hand for neighboring farmers.

In [1940] James enlisted into the United States Army where he served primarily in California. With his papers in-hand, James was scheduled to be discharged on December 8, 1941. With the U S involvement in WWII, all discharges were cancelled and James’ service was extended into 1945. In June 1944, James, along with thousands of others serving stateside, were shipped to England where they became part of the D-Day Invasion of Normandy. James then served in Europe, including the Battle of the Bulge, through V-E Day in May 1945. He then returned to the US and was honorably discharged with the rank of Corporal. James then worked on a large dairy farm in California until returning home to rural Lanesboro MN in 1947.

James was united in marriage to Irma R Vickerman on June 19, 1948. He worked as a tenant farmer near Mabel, MN, until 1955 when he and Irma purchased the Harstad farm in Amherst Township followed by the additional purchase of the adjoining farm in 1961. While living on their farm, James served on various boards including Elstad School Board and Amherst Township Board. James supplemented the farm income by certifying acreages for the SCS, carpentry work and township grader operator until his retirement in 1981. At that time, he and Irma moved from the farm into Harmony, MN, where they lived until 2003 when they returned to the farm. James was a member of the American Legion.

James is survived by his wife of 68+ years, Irma, sons Gary (Mary) of Mabel, MN, Curtis (Ruth) of Stewart, MN, Jimmie of Harmony, MN and Gene (Barb) of Wykoff, MN and daughters Bonnie Wangen of Belvidere, IL, Rhonda (Tim) Manka of Black Creek, WI, Marcia (Mike) Randall of Minnetonka, MN and Lorinda (Paul) Dredske of Poplar Grove, IL, 21 grandchildren, 33 great-grandchildren and 12 great-great-grandchildren, in addition to several step-grandchildren; a brother Merlin (Marge) of Onalaska, WI, and sisters Ella Olstad of LaCrosse, WI, Orillie Iverson of Byron, MN and Gladys (Marlin) Ziemer of St James, MN, along with many nieces, nephews and cousins.

James was preceded in death by his parents, brothers Peter, Palmer and Kenneth and sisters Marian Bothun and Ruth Beatty and great-granddaughter Megan Schultz.

Funeral service will be 11 amSaturday, January 14, 2017 at the Elstad Lutheran Church in rural Lanesboro.  Burial will be in the church cemetery with military honors by the American Legion. Visitation will be 9 am until the time of services at the church.  Arrangements are being handled by Mengis Funeral Home of Mabel, MN.

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