James “Jim” Arthur Wise
Born January 3 1943 in Sterling, IL
Died July 21 2023, 80 years young at heart
How to embody Jim Wise in a paragraph? A man who was so much to so many and who lived his life to the fullest, because as he said, life is not a “dress rehearsal,” and it doesn’t matter if you start from nothing, you can do anything if you have enough “fire in the hole.” Jim Wise was fueled by a blazing hot and intensely beautiful fire.
1943: Born in a small town in Illinois, he grew up with his older brother and their single mother. She died when he was 14, and his aunt and uncle raised him thereafter, instilling in him a voracious work ethic.
1963: Joined the US Air Force and spent the majority of his military career at Warren Air Force base in Cheyenne, WY until his honorable discharge in 1967. (This man loved his country; s/he was brave who dared enter into political debates at the dinner table.)
1970: Married Marianne Elizabeth Latta, after promptly sweeping her off her feet! (True love is real.)
1971: Graduated with an Economics degree from the University of Wyoming (Go Pokes!)
Forever the entrepreneur, he started many of his own companies – lucky is the patron who met the handsome owner/bartender at The Bum Steer bar in Laramie. On he went to work for the state of Wyoming, and work for himself, creating successful real estate and home building companies along the way in Wyoming and Colorado. He did city life, small town life, and even a desert chapter in Scottsdale, Arizona for five years, poolside. He did big corporate and small business, too, sat on bank boards, built and sold his own homes and was invited to be a member at the Old Baldy Club. And he did all of this with style and authenticity. But he eventually found his way back to the quiet cabin in Wyoming, where it seems his heart had been the whole time.
So who was he really?
· the notable high school athlete
· the romantic and adoring husband for 53 years (a love story fairytales are made of)
· the father to two, and the father to every other teenager who needed one
· the grandfather to five (where he loved bigger and more vulnerably than in any other of his roles)
· the brother and the uncle (ask James about that ride in Uncle Jim’s Mercedes)
· the mentor and the role model
· the badass on his Harley
· the cool guy in his Ferrari
· the neighborhood snow-plowing hero in his Skidsteer
· the lover of all things gas-powered
· the outdoorsman (kids should learn to fish, hunt, camp and ride motorcycles)
· the risk taker
· the savvy businessman
· the class act (custom jackets and ties preferred)
· the lover of country music and rock-n-roll alike (looking at you, Bob Seger)
· the cowboy and the city slicker
· the guy with the biggest sweet tooth (Oreos are all-you-can-eat in heaven)
· the tough guy on the outside, and ultimate softy on the inside (is there anything better?)
He is survived by the love of his life, Marianne Latta Wise, his two children, Jamie Wise Werner (Nathan Werner) and Dustin Wise (Tara Wise), his five grandchildren, Riley Werner, Athena Werner, Charlotte Werner, Lander Wise and Zane Wise, his brother, Gerald Wise and his nieces and nephew, Elizabeth Wise Luebbers, James Wise and Anne “Rose” Wise. He is preceded in death by his mother Elizabeth Forder, and his loving aunt and uncle, Jim & Mary Forder.
Diagnosed with metastatic esophageal cancer in March 2023, he addressed it head on and never once gave up the will to beat it, “My next stop after I get out of here is the dentist.” … with a stop for ice cream.
We will gather next summer for a celebration of his life – Jim Wise style.
Memorial contributions in Jim’s honor can be made to
The Ryan Park Fire Department
HC 63 Box 9L, Saratoga, WY 82331