James Verner Smalley, 92, of Bemidji, MN, passed away peacefully on May 4, 2020.
Jim was born on August 22, 1927 in Duluth, MN to Verner and Beatrice Smalley. After graduating from Denfeld High School, he attended the University of Minnesota, Duluth, obtaining his Teaching Degree. He later obtained his Master’s Degree in Counseling from Bemidji State University. Jim served in the United States Army during World War II. He was a Radio Operator stationed in Oahu, Hawaii. He married Violet Gustafson of Two Harbors, MN. They had two children, Jill and James. They later divorced. On May 20, 1978, Jim and Charlene Herman of Fargo, ND, were married. Jim worked for Bemidji Area Schools for most of his career. He began as a Social Studies teacher, then worked as a School Counselor in the Junior High and Middle schools. Jim started the Bemidji High School Hockey program in 1963, bringing the team to the State Tournament twice in his 10 years of coaching. He was also elected as President of the Minnesota State High School Hockey Coaches Association in 1972. Jim retired in 1989. In the years following their retirement, Jim and Char loved to travel. They traveled much of the world, usually taking the road less traveled, often riding trains and carrying backpacks. Jim was a lifelong member of the BPO Elks, serving twice as their Exalted Ruler. He was an avid Bridge player, loving to play and teach. He achieved the level of Life Master. Jim also enjoyed most sports, especially playing golf.
Jim is survived by his wife, Charlene; daughter, Jill (Ronald) Grand of St Cloud, MN, and son, Jim (Kristi) of Naples, FL. He was the proud grandparent of three grandsons; Michael (Bre) Grand, Steven Grand and Carter Smalley; and one granddaughter, Marcell (Stephen) Szymanski. He is also survived by his brother, Robert Smalley of Duluth, MN; sister, Colleen (Hunter) Beaumont of Munich, Germany; and sister-in-law, Susan Smalley of Moose Lake, MN. He was preceded in death by his parents and brother, Michael.
A memorial service will be planned for a later date. Memorials are preferred to Great River Rescue Animal Shelter or Evergreen House.
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