James Opatrny (June 25, 1941 - September 21, 2023)

In loving memory of
James Opatrny
  • June 25, 1941
  • -
  • September 21, 2023

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James Michael (Jim) Opatrny from Canton, Michigan and The Villages, Florida, passed away on September 21, 2023 after a long battle with a bone marrow disease.

Jim, 82 years old, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on June 25, 1941, along with his twin sister, Janet Rojeck (Gerald) to parents Joseph Rudolph Opatrny and Della Jane Opatrny.

Jim grew up in the Cleveland, Ohio area and had many fond memories of the city and his childhood in Maple Heights. Jim was a natural athlete and excelled at high school sports, lettering in football, basketball, and baseball. He was also Senior Class President and a member of the National Honor Society. In addition to his busy high school activities, Jim worked at various jobs. His stories about his paper route, bike shop and grocery store jobs reflected his pride in hard work.

Jim graduated from Ohio University in 1963 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering. He started his career in Cleveland with Howard, Needles, Tammen and Bergendoff, as a highway design engineer. In 1967 Jim later went to work for the Federal Aviation Administration Airports Branch in the Cleveland Area Office as an airport engineer. In 1979, Jim was transferred to Canton, Michigan. As Assistant Manager of the Detroit Office he and his staff of ten administered the Airport Improvement Program in Ohio. Jim enjoyed working with the airport owners and government officials in Ohio and Michigan to improve and develop their airports. He made many lasting friendships with the people he served. Jim retired after 36 years with the FAA. After retirement Jim started his consulting firm, O-AIR LLC. and continued to advise airport officials for another eleven years.

Jim is survived by his devoted wife of 33 years, Gayle Opatrny, whom he met on the tennis courts during an Ann Arbor Ski Club social function. This was the beginning of many years of tennis and friendship in the area. Jim’s love and commitment to his children and family and his willingness to embrace his blended family. Jim convinced Gayle that she would love biking, skiing, kayaking, and camping. Jim also embraced swimming, skiing, golfing, and fishing. They enjoyed their travels to National Parks and cruises to Alaska and the Panama Canal. Jim and Gayle spent their winter months enjoying friends and activities in The Villages, Florida, and surrounding area. Jim loved the ocean and beaches of Florida. They spent many happy hours searching for shells and enjoying the marine life.
Jim is survived by his loving children from a previous marriage; daughter, Susan White (Robert), from Lakeland, Florida and his son, Robert Opatrny (Catherine), from Plymouth, Michigan. Jim’s love and devotion to his children is evident in their conversations about camping trips to the West Coast, skiing adventures and happy times visiting grandparents. Jim’s nephews Steve Rojeck (Marlo) and Brian Rojeck were also an important part of the family fun as they were growing up.

Jim’s love and commitment to his children also extended to his new blended family. Jim is survived by his stepson, Todd Wilson (Melissa), from Snoqualmie, Washington, and Jeffrey Wilson (Maryann), from Grand Blanc, Michigan. Todd and Jeff will be forever blessed with Jim’s love for them and their families.

Jim was proud of the accomplishments of his four grandchildren; Tanner and Abigail White and Olivia and Sophia Opatrny and his step-grandchildren; Samuel, Christopher, and Ryan Wilson and Andrew Wilson and Matthew, Sidney, and Annalisa Kiser. He enjoyed supporting their musical and sports activities whenever he could.

Jim was a member of the Congregational Church of Ann Arbor. Cremation took place in The Villages. At present, no formal memorial service is being planned. A family Celebration of Life will be held in the future. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation of money or blood to the American Red Cross. Jim would want you to pray for the world we leave our grandchildren.  Arrangements entrusted with BALDWIN BROTHERS Funeral & Cremation Society-Spanish Springs. Sentiments are encouraged at www.baldwincremation.com.

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  1. Jim Little says:
    06 Feb 2024
    Jim was my mentor and friend at the FAA. After moving on from the FAA in the airport cosulting business I stayed friend with him and his family enjoying ski trips in Colorado and Utah. He was one of my favorite people because his infectious humor and happy disposition.

    I will remember him happily forever, RIP my friend.

  2. Everett & Arlene Lowery says:
    27 Sep 2023
    When we walked our dog and Jim was in the garage. we will miss him coming out to visit.

  3. Carol Metty says:
    26 Sep 2023
    You were such a special person so full of life and all that went with it. Will always remember the years our group played tennis at the Track and Field bldg and the wild and crazy times they were. We will miss your spirit and laugh

  4. Keith Gray says:
    26 Sep 2023
    We spent our childhood together playing baseball, basketball and enjoying all outside sports. We went to college together after high school and remained close ever since. I will miss you!

  5. Colleen Hosken says:
    26 Sep 2023
    We will miss you Jim. Always up for a good time. Such a great sense of humor. Jim and Gayle’s events we’re always memorable. His devotion to Ohio State was his only shortcoming but understandable. Wonderful husband, father, grandfather and friend, so hard to say goodbye.

  6. Colleen Hosken says:
    26 Sep 2023
    Jim will be so missed. He had a great sense of humor and was always up for a good time. When Gayle and Jim hosted an event it was always special. His devotion to “The Ohio State”, was his only shortcoming, but understandable. Wonderful husband, Dad, Grandpa, brother and friend. We will miss you.

  7. Peter and Therese Stea says:
    26 Sep 2023
    Rest in Peace Jim,
    Always enjoyed the Michigan-OSU rivalry banter with Jim. He will surely be missed.

  8. Ann Manning says:
    26 Sep 2023
    Dearest Gayle and all family members,
    Jim will always be remembered as a kind, gentle, caring man. We were so thankful he and his children came along to have such a wonderful relationship with our Gayle, Jeff and Todd.
    He fought a hard fight with Gayle’s help. Now, May he rest in peace.❤️
    With love, Ann & Ken

  9. Cheryl Land says:
    26 Sep 2023
    “When you lose someone you love, you gain an angel you know “ Rest in peace Jim

  10. Kim Wiggins lit a candle:
    26 Sep 2023
    Lit since September 26, 2023 at 9:42:48 AM

  11. Bobbie Mizell says:
    26 Sep 2023
    Wonderful picture of Uncle Jim. This is how I will forever remember him. His infectious sense of humor and laugh will be strongly missed. His hugs are legendary in our family. Rest peacefully.

  12. Bobbie Mizell lit a candle:
    26 Sep 2023
    Lit since September 26, 2023 at 9:18:46 AM

  13. Robert posted an image:
    26 Sep 2023
    Jim loved the villages and his swimming!
    Jim loved the villages and his swimming!

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