James (Jim) Robert Seedorff passed away Friday February 19, 2021 at Oelwein Health Care Center at the age of 82. Memorial services will begin at 10:30 AM on Saturday March 27, 2021 at Zion Lutheran Church in Oelwein. In the meantime, friends and family are invited to view a photo memorial at https://youtu.be/UnhFCupZNNU .
Due to state and federal guidelines on gatherings regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing is required. Those in attendance are required to wear a mask.
Jim was born in Arlington on June 17, 1938, to Mary (Wessels) and Lloyd Seedorff. Jim grew up at Maryville, named after his mother’s gas station and restaurant run by the family at the corner of Highway 3 and 187 between Arlington and Lamont. He attended school in Lamont, where he participated in band as a tuba player, as well as speech and drama activities, and graduated in 1955. He attended Wartburg College in Waverly for a year in the mid-1950s until he and the Dean agreed it probably wasn’t a good fit (Jim would never say he was kicked out, rather “invited to not come back”), then headed to Los Angeles, California, with some cousins to take classes in geology and join a motorcycle “club” that sometimes rode with the Hell’s Angels.
Jim later returned to Iowa and for a time owned and managed a cafe in Oelwein before taking over Seedorff Oil Company from his father Lloyd and establishing Hustler Tire Corporation. He also partnered with his brother Ron for a time at the gas station in Maryville, and owned his own gas stations, including a Skelly station in Strawberry Point that later became one of a couple Jim’s Quik Shop convenience stores in the Strawberry Point, Oelwein and Maynard areas. He also owned Coralville Transport, a trucking company, for several years.
Always one to seek out fun and exciting things to do, Jim obtained his pilot’s license in the early 1960s and maintained it for decades, at one point co-owning a small plane at the airport in Oelwein which he’d use for vacations and business trips throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. Jim owned (and crashed) more than a few Harleys in his day. He also rode a bull, very briefly, as a challenge during a rodeo in Oelwein in 1960. He loved subjecting his family to bluegrass and polka music and helped establish the annual Backbone Bluegrass Festival. In 1978 Jim played in the finals of the Sahara World Championship of Blackjack in Las Vegas, taking 6th place. Then in 1980, the “towering, bespectacled Seedorff,” as the World Championship of Blackjack bulletin described him, won the Championship and a feature story on ABC Wide World of Sports (a television program from the last century). He went on to try his hand at the European Blackjack Championship in Monaco but didn’t place. He and his wife Sandy also owned a small houseboat on the Mississippi River in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, for several years, where he earned the name “Captain Bam Bam.”
He married Lorraine Ward Tripp in 1970. They had a daughter, Leanne, and later divorced. He married Sandra (Vanselow) Smith in 1983, and they have spent nearly 40 years together.
Jim was the sort of guy who could travel halfway around the world and run into somebody he knew. If he didn’t know you, he soon would, and he’d remember your name, where you were from, who your family was, and a myriad of other details most people forget. And he’d still remember everything decades later. He even got to know Frank Sinatra while they briefly sat together at a bar in Vegas. His optimism and gusto for life was never slowed by physical disability, despite suffering from Charcot Marie Tooth Disease, a form of muscular dystrophy, all his life.
He has often expressed his gratitude for the staff of the Oelwein Health Care Center, where he and Sandy have lived for the last several years and he would want to be sure to include his thanks one more time. We are all grateful for the excellent care and attention they provided, particularly at the end.
Jim is survived by his wife, Sandy, his brother Ronald (Joyce) Seedorff of Arlington, a daughter, Leanne Seedorff of Iowa City, a son, Jon (Gale) Smith of Hazleton, a daughter, Stacy (Bob) Jones of Cedar Rapids, 8 grandchildren: Aiden Smith, Jen (Adrian Sanks) Reisner of Cedar Rapids, Sadie Smith of Dubuque, Aly (Michael) Prohaska of Dubuque, Shawn (Ashlee) Reisner of Santa Monica, CA, Brandon (Sophie Granger) Divis of Coralville, Tanner (Mckayla Moore) Smith, and Blake Smith of Cedar Rapids. He was also survived by 5 great grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and great nieces/nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; many close and dear aunts, uncles, and cousins on both the Seedorff and Wessels sides; and a much-loved Lhasa Apso named Patch.
For someone who enjoyed new people and new experiences, this is the next great adventure. He’ll know a LOT of people on the other side.