On August 8, 2022, the world got a little smaller. Hypnotist Jim Wand drew his final breath and left this world to be with God. Not many knew about Jim’s health condition, but he had been fighting a very rare, aggressive form of cancer for several months. Although the cancer ultimately won, Jim’s strength allowed him to stay on this earth so much longer than he should have. By his side until the very end were his two loves: his wife Kenda and his sweet Goldendoodle pup Stelly.
Jim is survived and lovingly remembered by his sisters: Judy Wand of Roscoe, Illinois; Carol Hansel of Machesney Park, Illinois; and Elizabeth Sertle of Hazel Green, Wisconsin, as well as many nephews and nieces. Jim was also preceded in death by his parents, Gertrude and Henry J. Wand, his brother Tommy, and his sister Marlene Sargent. Jim had recently left Illinois and moved to The Villages, Florida, where he was lucky to live close to his cousin and some long-time friends. It seemed like the perfect place to retire. But Jim did not get to enjoy retirement as he should have-the cancer had other plans.
Jim was born in Hazel Green, Wisconsin, on December 15, 1987( forever 35) and lived his first years in the township of Rodden, Illinois. Jim began first grade at Rodden’s one-room schoolhouse but contracted an uncommon bone disorder known as Perthes’ disease, which put him in a body cast. He continued to study at home, guided by teachers from Elizabeth, and eventually was able to return to school in person. Jim was considered a bit of a class clown, occasionally drawing reprimands from his teachers. But he was quite popular with his classmates, who found him very amusing.
After graduating summa cum laude from Elizabeth High School, Jim enrolled in Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, graduating in 1973 with a Bachelor of Science degree in sociology and a minor in psychology. Two years later, he received a master’s degree in counseling from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.
During the seven years that Jim taught high school in East Dubuque, Illinois, he saw a stage show put on by Larry Garrett of Garrett Hypnosis and Wellness Center in Chicago. Jim immediately fell in love with entertaining and quickly shifted to stage hypnotism as a full-time profession. He also ran a full-time clinical hypnosis business in Key West – Dubuque, and spent many years as a school counselor helping kids with everyday problems. It seemed that Jim was a natural at changing people’s lives. And that he did-tens of thousands of lives, spanning a 35- year career. Here are some tributes from just a few of the people whose lives were impacted by this incredible man: The first time I talked to Jim Wand I knew I had found the right mentor. Not only did Jim understand his craft better than anyone else I knew, he wanted to pass on that knowledge to others. I watched him for 10 years in laugher and awe at his ability to perform great shows in all types of circumstances. Every time I had a show I was concerned about, I could call Jim and he would spout out an amazing amount of information that was gold. He has left his mark on me and so many other students. ~ Tracy Gray, stage hypnotist and mentalist
I first heard of Jim Wand in the 1980s, when my agent suggested passing a few of my shows to anotherperformer, who turned out to be Jim. After the shows, the word would always come back that he’d done a great job. Jim Wand was known for his consummate skill as a performer and his integrity all over the U.S. and Canada. I never met Jim in person, only online, in an informal Bibelstudy I’d been running on Sundays. Even though Jim was ekcritically ill, he never complained, or even showed it on his face. He always greeted us with a smile and became a keen participant in the sessions. He knew his time was short, but he never missed a session. He grew quieter as the weeks went on, but kept showing up to learn, and exhibited an obvious sense of peace. Jim was a seeker. He was looking for God in those last months of his life, and God showed up for him. God bless you, Jim. Rest In Peace ~ Mike Mandel, hypnosis instructor
I was blessed to be the third person to mentor with Jim, the model of excellence in the stage hypnosis industry, the best of the best. And that’s what Jim expected of his students in everything they did, whether it be hypnosis, change work, stage shows, business, or entertainment-to be the best of the best. Jim was a showman from the word go: his charisma was larger than life, and he revolutionized the industry of stage hypnosis. There will never be another Jim Wand, but there will be a best of the best in you! ~Monica Augustine, stage hypnotist
I had the pleasure and honor of knowing and working with Jim for over 30 years. As the Student Union and Activities Director at Winona State University, Winona, Minnesota, I hired Jim to perform his hypnosis show (two shows a night because of his popularity) since the early ‘90s. And over the years we became good friends. Though we only saw each other once or twice a year, we always stayed in touch. Jim, you’ve been a loyal, true friend. We always gave each other a hard time because we loved one another. You were a mentor and big brother to me. My family and I were blessed to have you in our lives. So rest in peace my friend, you deserve it! Love ya! ~ “Winona Joe” Reed, former Director of Student Union and Activities
I met Jim in 2016 when he came to do a hypnosis show for my high school. Never had I seen something so funny, surreal, so magical. It took me a full year to work up the nerve to talk to him about how I had learned hypnosis myself, and how I wanted to learn more from him. Who would have thought that I, an 18-year-old kid from the middle of nowhere, would be given the experience of a lifetime traveling the country performing hypnosis shows? Jim gave that to me and more-he didn’t hesitate to teach me everything he knew. Not only was he a hypnotic genius, but a legendary role model, too. I wasn’t just an intern, and he wasn’t just my boss. He became my academic counselor, spiritual advisor, financial consultant, tutor, teacher, and so much more. He showed me that there was a world of opportunities if only I would be courageous enough to jump for them. One thing about Jim that I will always respect is that no matter how many thousands of people he met, he made sure to know each student, client, audience member, or volunteer on a personal level; he made sure to never forget them either. The number of smiles and laughter that greeted Jim wherever he went was nothing short of beautiful. The world feels a little emptier without Jim, but it shines thousands of times brighter from all the lives Jim touched, the smiles and the laughter he created, and the legend he left behind. God bless you, Jim. I can never thank you enough ~ Reed Tate, stage hypnotist
There are significant people in everyone’s lives, people who make a difference. And Jim was one of those significant people in my life. I met Jim about nine years ago when he did a comedy hypnosis show in my hometown. I was in the audience and was absolutely blown away by the show-so much that I approached him afterwards. I was 55 years old and nervous! I’d heard of Jim Wand (hadn’t everyone in my neck of the woods?) and I knew that he was somewhat of a celebrity. I wasn’t sure how I’d be received, but I introduced myself and told Jim that I’d like to learn to do what he did. Rather than blow me off, he asked me why. I told him that it looked like so much fun! Nine years and three training sessions later, I’m doing comedy hypnosis shows! If not for Jim, I’d never have gotten here. Jim was always supportive, always a positive influence, always willing to help. I hope someday that I’m a fraction of the entertainer Jim was! I saw many of Jim’s shows and it makes me so sad that I won’t see another one. Jim was a great entertainer and a great mentor. I am proud to have called him my friend. ~ Tom Roth, stage hypnotist
I respected Jim Wand because he was educator first and entertainer second. Jim was everything you wanted in a mentor. He was generous with his time and knowledge. He coached me throughout my career without asking for anything in return. After my family went through a rough patch, he invited me to celebrate Easter brunch with his family. I’m very sad because of his passing, but I’ll be grateful forever that I got to be his friend and one of his many students. ~ Chris Jones, stage hypnotist and finalist on America’s Got Talent
I’ll never forget the first time I met Jim. I was just starting out in my career as an entertainer and Jim Wand was this world-famous superstar in the business. Talk about being intimidated! What I remember most about that first meeting was how gracious and down-to-earth Jim was. Over the next few years, Jim became a friend and trusted advisor to me. My career flourished because of him. When I had the opportunity to produce my first show in Las Vegas, without hesitation he said, “Tell me what you need and let’s make this happen.” Over the years, we would touch base every once in a while, and I would make a point of telling him how grateful I was for his help. His response was always typical Jim: “You don’t owe me anything, Michael.” Last December, he called to tell me that he was sick and asked me not to tell anyone. I was honored that he felt he could share that with me. When he got out of the hospital last month, we talked about me coming for a visit, but I never got the chance. It’s hard to believe that this larger-than-life legend is gone. He was at the top of the profession. He opened doors for many entertainers that were previously closed. He brought as many people along with him as he could. Every performer in this business has benefitted from Jim’s efforts directly or indirectly in one form or another. Jim, my life and career wouldn’t have been what it is without you. Your generosity and kindness helped me and countless others. You will be missed. Thank you for being in my life. ~ Michael Johns, stage hypnotist
I’m sure there will be an abundance of stories characterizing the respect, appreciation, and admiration that so many of us have had for Jim Wand. My story, like so many others, started with meeting Jim at a show. Like many, I was a skeptic about whether hypnosis was real. A person only had to see one of Jim’s shows to know without doubt, it was real, and he was the grand master of performing it. Jim saw potential in me and agreed to train me in a profession which at that time had few performers. He was gracious, giving, and supportive. That was 30 years ago, and I have done hundreds of shows since, all to the credit of my teacher and mentor. I doubt there is anyone else in the world who has performed more shows than Jim Wand. At one point in his career, he was doing 200-300 shows a year. I don’t care WHO you are, with all the travel and work associated with such a schedule, the ONLY way you accomplish that is loving what you do-and he did. His creativity, motivation and drive took him around the country and around the world. His self-help audios and seminars helped thousands change their lives for the better. And if laughter is good for the soul, thousands have better souls because of Jim. People constantly would say, “I have never laughed so hard in my life!” Like so many thousands of others, my life was transformed by Jim Wand. I learned so much and will be forever grateful of the time and knowledge Jim shared. Until we meet again thank you. ~ Al Snyder, stage hypnotist
Everybody knows what a legendary performer and amazing showman Jim was. But I don’t think many people ever got a look behind the curtain to know just what kind of man he could be. I worked for and with Jim for almost six years before COVID hit. He was with me for some of my greatest successes, as well as some of my huge losses, and his compassion shined through every time. He gave me opportunities to travel to places and perform in places I never thought I would go. Cruise ships, Vegas, more than 20 states across the country. Corporate, schools, colleges. Each time I would ask, “Do you think I’m ready for this?” And he say, “I wouldn’t have given you this opportunity if I didn’t think you could do it.” He had ten times more energy than people half his age. I could barely keep up with his pace sometimes. He offered me opportunities for conventions and training classes and teaching and networking that I don’t think I would have gotten anywhere else. I saw him spend hours on the phone with other performers answering questions and offering advice. Dinners on the road where we would meet other performers to chat or network. And Jim never asked for a dime for that time. We butted heads, had disagreements, and all the other things that come with being friends. A lot of people thought he was aloof or arrogant-but in reality he was a golden soul wrapped in a package that he only let a few select people get close to. It was an honor and a privilege to be one of them. Rest well, Jim. You’ll be missed more than you know ~ Cory Osborn, stage hypnotist I lost a mentor, colleague, agent, but most importantly a friend yesterday. I had the honor and privilege to work hand-in-hand with Jim Wand for the past seven years and to travel and perform with him over the past two years. From working long hours in his office to traveling across the country doing shows, performing and learning from Jim was an unreal experience. On stage, no one could match his personality or energy. He truly loved what he did and put it all out there. Offstage, his personality and caring nature made you want to be his friend and be around him. The relationships that he was able to build and the lives that he helped change are goals that we should all want to accomplish. I personally would not be the entertainer, business owner, friend, or family man that I am today without Jim’s influence. From the very bottom of my heart, thank you, Jim Wand, for everything. You will be greatly missed, but may your legacy live on. ~ Randy Andrews, stage hypnotist
In April of 2004 I bought a house in East Dubuque, Illinois. There was an office space below the house that was rented out to Jim Wand, the hypnotist. Within days of my moving in, Jim had convinced me to become part of Wand Enterprises. Fast-forward 18 years and I am still part of that family. I have met so many great artists and made lifelong friendships with many that I truly cherish. Jim was not only a great boss but a great friend. He helped me figure out what to do after the loss of my husband and was lenient with my schedule during the worst time in my life. Jim and I could sometimes argue like a married couple. Then the next day I would come in to see flowers or some candy on my desk with a little apology note. The Jim that I will remember is not the one on stage, but the Jim in jeans and a T-shirt having the office staff vote on his clothes and hair while laughing over open-faced beef sandwiches that we ordered out. Yes, he was an amazing artist, the best of his kind, truly. But he was also much more to many people. I will miss my talks with him as we carry on his legacy. Sue Voss, office manager
The world has lost a great man and a great entertainer. Almost two years full-time on the road, and another two years part-time after that, hundreds and hundreds of shows, thousands of miles on the road, and thousands on a plane: Jim and I had countless adventures while out and plenty of mishaps as well. Jim was not fond of the “scenic route,” as he would call it, when I would miss a turn, but we always ended up where we were going. I owe a big part of my work ethic to Jim and his unique way of doing things. It’s crazy to think we packed all of that into the few short years I knew him. Thank you, Jim, for all the memories and all the friends you introduced me to. Save my seat next to the stage behind the mixer, buddy, I’ll get there eventually. I’m just taking the scenic route for now. ~ Jacob Vold, Diamond Jo Casino
I first meet Jim over 30 years ago when we were both performing at Craft Fair USA in Milwaukee. I was so amazed at what he was doing and how funny his show was. We became friends and performed together at several shows over the years. Jim brought so much joy to so many people with his show and was truly the best hypnotist. He was able to connect with his whole audience and able to do things that others couldn’t because his audience trusted him and believed he was in control of everything. And he was. Jim loved life, his work, his friends, and his wife. He was always trying to help people with hypnosis: quit smoking, lose weight, learn easier, sleep better-whatever you needed to do to improve your life, he could help you. I looked up to Jim, and it will always make me sad he is no longer with us. I hope to see Jim again in Heaven-maybe we’ll do another show there. ~ Rick Wilcox, magician. Jim Wand had a passion that I identify with: he loved college students and had a desire to serve them. I was impressed by Jim’s professional life, even though I never saw him perform a show. Every year was a new show for him so that he would be able to better connect with the fast-changing student audience and serve them more effectively. Not everyone knows that after the show he would provide a seminar for students to “Recharge Your College Career.” That fueled him as much, if not more, than what people saw as the “real” show. Jim was high energy, attention loving, full of fun and innuendo, and living on the edge of trouble all the way back to elementary school. Even back then you could tell he was resilient-he didn’t let missing that time at school keep him down. Jim will be missed in our small-town group of classmates who havekept in touch over these years. He left a mark on so many people all over the country. I’m grateful to have been one of them. ~ Tom Virtue, leadership coach
THE FINAL BOW Hey there! Great to see you, on this page It’s me Jim Wand Stepping down from life’s great stage As you start to read There’s no surprise Your attention is captivated Still, I hypnotize! Performing in every State across the USA Over 13,000 engagements booked From country fairs to the grandest stage Even celebrity audiences were hooked! Committees of folk on the stage Who excitedly raced up day or night To be entranced by the guy with the mystical voice And spellbound by the magical light And now as with all good shows The curtain slowly draws Bringing the occasion to a close To the sound of cheering and applause The audience departs No more shows to do Future Hypnotists A legacy I leave - just for you The mind it is a precious tool Not just for entertainment though Use it wisely, work with it Hypnosis can help the subconscious grow Family, friends, and loyal fans I speak straight from the heart Reflect on all our precious memories Now that I depart We all sew the threads of life And in time each of us must go But we are together for ever more I’ve simply performed at my ultimate show So, the time has come, and with a fond farewell I’m closing off for now This is not goodbye, there’s no such thing ... It’s just ... My final ... bow. ~ Hazel Proser.
Today I say goodbye to a very special friend, Jim Wand. I met Jim in 1977, when he was at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa. Loras was a regular show for me, and Jim was always right up in the front row, so excited to watch, and after each show he had a thousand questions. He started off wanting to learn to do a hypnosis show. It turned into thousands of hypnosis shows! We kept in touch, and we would talk hypnosis every phone call. Soon he was not only doing shows but had surpassed every stage hypnotist in the country. This past year Jim, his wife Kenda, and I had many conversations regarding his health challenges. Unlike the hypnosis shows so many years ago, this time I didn’t know what to tell him. But I made him some recordings for relaxation, and I think it helped. It may have extended his life for a year. When he was doing hypnosis shows, I was his coach. When he was going through cancer, I was his coach again. How ironic. He will be missed by thousands. He is loved by all who ever met him. Goodbye for now, my friend. ~ Larry Garrett, author and owner of Garrett Hypnosis and Wellness Center
Jim Wand was the greatest stage hypnotist that I have ever seen. He was also a brilliant psychologist, teacher, coach, and friend. I had the amazing opportunity to train with Jim in the early 2000s. Although very busy himself, Jim went out of his way to spend the time to teach me. He sent me training materials, talked with me many times on the phone, and invited me to many of his shows, talking with me before and after performances. After training, I was booked for many shows through Jim’s amazing agency Wand Enterprises. Jim was also a great friend, so humorous and fun to be around. Jim also coached me through the two most challenging speeches I ever gave: eulogies for my mom and dad. Jim was truly a class act both on and offstage. Sports fans talk about the “GOAT,” the Greatest of All Time. There are debates sometimes about GOATs in various sports. But in my opinion, in the world of stage hypnosis there is no debate: Jim Wand was THE GREATEST OF ALL TIME. ~ Anthony “Tony Z” Zeigler, stage hypnotist
Jim Wand was a Dubuque treasure and a legend at Mississippi Moon Bar where he performed over thirty shows in thirteen years. During his time on stage, Jim hypnotized approximately 600 people at each show and performed for an estimated 6,000 fans. Jim became a Thanksgiving tradition at Moon Bar where hundreds would gather to kick-off a long holiday weekend with laughs as their friends took the stage to act like a dog or to dance like nobody was watching.
To the team members at Diamond Jo Casino and Mississippi Moon Bar, Jim was so much more than a guest and an entertainer, we were so fortunate to call him our friend. He will forever be missed both personally and professionally. ~ Diamond Jo Casino
Jim did not want a funeral, which has been hard for some people who feel they did not get a chance to say goodbye. The one thing I believe we all can agree on is how many lives this incredible man changed through motivation, laughter, wisdom, and mentoring. I know the one thing that would mean the world to Jim: go out and do one act of kindness for someone else. Maybe, just maybe, you could change that person’s life for the better-just like Jim used to do with his shows. I plan to carry on his legacy by taking over the helm of Wand Enterprises, of course with a little help from my friends. I want to give a special thank you from the bottom of my heart to Jen Redfearn, Al Snyder, Dr. Eric Engelman, and many, many more people there simply is not enough room to mention them all. If you were part of Jim’s life, know that you were adored. We lost a sweet, dear man whose incredible life impacted thousands. Jim, you were loved and will be missed beyond words. ~ Kenda Wand
Arrangements entrusted with BALDWIN BROTHERS Funeral & Cremation Society-Spanish Springs, 352-480-5959. Sentiments may be found at www.baldwincremation.com.