James P. Jorgensen, age 82, Green Bay, traveled to his final destination on December 24, 2021.
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1939, Jim was born to Wallace and Albertha Jorgensen, Green Bay, WI, the middle child in a blue-collar family of three children, with sister Kathleen and Earl. He attended St. Francis Xavier Cathedral grade school, Premontre High School, and St. Norbert College, before beginning a career in the United States Army.
He married his college sweetheart, Michal Ann Basten, and they had three children: Julie, Timothy (deceased), and Jennifer. Military assignments in six different states and five foreign countries — including a combat tour in Vietnam — stimulated his love for travel, adventure, and the outdoors. Retiring from the Army as a Lieutenant Colonel, Jim settled in New Mexico, starting a second career at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
After divorce in 1992, Jim met the love of his life, Norma Lois Butler — his friend, travel companion and wife. Fortunate to retire early, they relocated to Green Bay leading an active life of volunteering, hiking, biking, camping, backpacking, and especially sailing in the Caribbean. A Packers season ticket holder since 1957, Jim and Norma enjoyed the team’s return to glory.
Together, they took every opportunity to explore all corners of the world, ending their travels with a world cruise. Asked his favorite destination, Jim said that every place he visited changed his life somehow either spiritually, emotionally, or intellectually. St. Augustine wrote, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” After visiting 48 states and more than 100 foreign countries, Jim definitely read a good portion of that book.
But the book closed when Norma died unexpectedly in 2019 after a brief, but courageously fought battle against lymphoma cancer. Jim was content to live out the remaining years of his life with family and friends, surrounded by the memories and mementos of a great life lived well.
Fate was not finished with him yet. In spring 2021, he was hospitalized with COVID-19. He survived without serious side effects, but a cancer of the duodenum (small intestine) was discovered.
Facing a year of medical tests and procedures, an invasive and complex surgery, months of chemotherapy, recovery and recuperation — all high risk with little return — Jim instead chose to live out his remaining time on his terms, enjoying friends and family until the cancer took him.
He was preceded in death by Norma (spouse of 27 years), Timothy (son) and Earl (brother). He is survived by sister Kathleen Kralovec, Eau Claire, WI; daughter Julie Kirk (Ken), Santa Fe, NM; daughter Jennifer Freyer (Peter), Merrill, WI; 5 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren, relatives and numerous friends.
Jim will be cremated and his ashes will be mixed with those of Norma and will be spread throughout the world. In lieu of flowers, raise a glass in his memory and tell your loved ones how much they mean to you.