James C. Scovell made his way to heaven on December 1, 2020. He fought congestive heart failure for sixteen years, and largely won. Jim was the third child of Dr. Richard C. and Alice (Friess) Scovell born October 4, 1946. Jim’s memories of childhood were idyllic; he spent every summer until the age of fourteen with his maternal grandparents at Sawyer Lake in the U.P., “where the woods were dense—and there was no fence, just sky.” He attended St. Patrick’s grade school and Our Lady of Premontre High School in Green Bay where he was the quarterback in football and played basketball until his senior year when God had other plans. A fortuitous dismissal of all seniors from the basketball team meant Dad auditioned for Finian’s Rainbow, done in partnership with the all-girls St. Joseph Academy. This talented introvert tried out for the harmonica solo and ended up getting the lead, opposite Lee Anne Riopelle; married seven times on stage, they decided to make it official later. After getting his degree at Milwaukee Institute of Technology in commercial art, Jim and Lee Anne were married by their director, Father Guy E. Guyon, O.Praem at the St. Norbert College Chapel on June 20, 1970.
Jim’s life was full of adventures and trials; through both, he never lost his sense of wonder or his ability to lose himself in good moments. Five of his greatest adventures were his own children, and later his sons-in-law and grandchildren, both human and furry. Our memories are filled with camping trips, fishing adventures, and always music. Normal to us was a garage filled with band equipment for random jam sessions, boogie reveille to get us out of bed, and strange, often horrible movies rented on VHS that we still laugh about. Jim was a member of the Second Century Band for years, and later enjoyed playing in smaller ensembles with his friend Eddie Farah and later Eddie’s son, Scott Farah, jamming with his family, and singing in choirs at churches, including St. Philip the Apostle, St. John the Evangelist, and most recently St. Mary of the Angels, Green Bay. He worked as an artist in the art department at Fort Howard Paper Company. From there, Jim decided that everything in his life had to have meaning. For almost a decade, Jim was a special education aide for the First Student bus company and the Green Bay School District, working at Edison, Preble, East and Red Smith schools. He also built and designed the sets for East High School theater department with his good friend, Del Whitmire, and many great students and parents over the years. Through that time, even more kids were given the gift of wonder, whether it was playing in the Fun Bus Kazoo Band, laughing at his corny study hall jokes, or dancing and singing through sets from South of Music, West Side Story, Hello Dolly, and even a reprise of Finian’s Rainbow.
Through all things, Jim was always aware of his humanity; he knew he wasn’t perfect, but he tried. He often remarked that God was “Good with one less ‘O.’” It’s hard to imagine a world where we are the first ones to hear the songs we write… but we also are comforted by this: the biggest wound of Jim’s life was healed on the same day, twenty-six years later when he walked into his son’s arms in heaven.
Jim will be missed by his wife of 50 years, Lee Anne Riopelle Scovell; his daughters and sons-in-law, Sarah Scovell Muraski, Sturgeon Bay, WI, Jennifer Scovell Parker & Shon Parker, St. Paul, MN, Anna Hemming, Boulder, Colorado, and Kathrin (Kate) Horrigan (Kevin Horrigan) Milwaukee, WI; grandchildren Brooke Muraski and Gideon Parker; Sister Susan Watson, Brookfield, WI, brother John (Cheri) Scovell Balsam Lake, WI; Brothers and sisters-in-law Ginny Riopelle, De Pere, Tom and Kathleen Riopelle, Richmond, Virginia, Patrick Riopelle & Jane Radue, Madison, WI, James Riopelle, Green Bay, Joanna Riopelle, Chicago, Karen and Pat DuChateau, Ledgeview, Mary and Dick Bloomer, Kaukauna, Tracey and Pat O’Leary, Menasha, Denise Riopelle (Terry McLaughlin), Appleton, and Maureen Riopelle and Robin Baliszewski, Milford, Ohio, many nieces, nephews, special cousins including life-long friend Michael (Colleen) Canney, friends and colleagues; and of course, all the grand-critters.
Preceding Jim in death are his son, Andrew, his parents, Richard and Alice, sister Mary Ellyn Scovell, mother and father-in-law, Rheo and Mary Alice (Maguire) Riopelle, brothers-in-law Jack Riopelle and John Jellison.
The family would like to thank those that prayed, offered help, or made things easier for Dad in his last few weeks in particular, especially brother in law, Jim Riopelle and cousin Dana Mitchell who came and stayed with Dad, and all the Riopelle and Scovell extended family members for love and support in so many ways; Dr. Bozena Biernat and all the staff at the Bellin Health De Pere clinic, the AMAZING team at Unity Hospice, especially Lance P., RN, who made our final days with Jim so much more peaceful. Jim also wanted to thank his daughters for their incredible care, especially the last few weeks, for everyone that supported them as they did so, and for the love and support of his beautiful wife Lee Anne, whom he adored for fifty-six years.