Feb. 19, 2021

James Findley, 81, of Duluth, died Feb. 19 due to complications from COVID-19 with his family surrounding him. A celebration of life will be held in the spring when COVID restrictions allow. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred.

He was born on March 20, 1939, in Johnstown, Pennsylvania to Harvey N. and Marian Ruth. He grew up playing youth hockey and was a member of the Johnstown Jets from 1955 to 1960. He left the Jets in 1960 to join the Army and was assigned to the Medical Corps at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C., where he worked as a psychiatric intern. It was here he met his wife, DeeAnn Vang.

Jim and Dee were married in Johnstown in 1962, and lived in the Washington, D.C., area where he attended hotel training school and worked at the Washington Hospital Center. The couple moved with their two sons to Midland, Michigan, in 1968 for Jim to attend Northwood Institute where he got his Associates Degree in Hospital Management. The family settled in Duluth in 1970 so that Jim could work at St. Mary’s hospital. Their third child, Kristen, was born in 1971. His career in Duluth included time with the Minnesota State Department of Health and Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Throughout his lifetime, Jim was dedicated to celebrating the sport of hockey, bringing it to new fans, and getting more kids involved. Because of injuries in the Army, he laced up his own skates for the last time in 1970, but he didn’t need to be on the ice to make an impact. The youth programs he launched in Washington, D.C., in the 1960s still thrive today. He coached Glen Avon hockey in Duluth, leading Sean’s bantam team to the state championship. He served on the Board of Directors for Glen Avon and the Blueline Club. From 1989-2007 he held various roles at the United States Hockey Hall of Fame including secretary, president, and chairman of the board. A longtime season ticket holder to the UMD Bulldogs and Minnesota Wild, some of his happiest moments were in the rink.

Jim and Dee have welcomed many people into their home over the years. Jim greeted everyone with a warm smile and genuine interest in their lives. He was always ready for some verbal sparring, sports trivia, or a sincere conversation. He would set aside his pain to focus on the people who meant the most to him. Jim was fiercely loyal and loving to all who were lucky enough to be a part of his life.

He was most dedicated to his wife of 58 years, Dee, who survives him along with; younger brother Bill (Frannie and Billy); sons Brian (Jodi), Sean (Susan); and daughter Kriste; grandkids, Brandon (Elle), Alicia (Chris), Jacob, Abby, Rebecca, and Cameron; as well as many members of extended family.