Jim was born on Valentine’s Day, 1938 to Henry W. Kostelecky and Helen B. (Hatzenbiler) Kostelecky and raised in Dickinson, North Dakota. As a teenager, he joined the National Guard and was a long-time member of the Guard. He attended Dickinson State College for one year before joining the Northern Pacific Railroad.
Jim married his high school sweetheart, Audrey (Pavlicek) on August 12, 1961 and called her his “bride” for 61 beautiful years. After six years at Northern Pacific, Jim attended Wahpeton State School of Science graduating with an associate degree in electrical technology in 1967. Upon graduating, Jim began his career at MDU where he worked for 33 years, until his retirement in 2001. Once retired, Jim and Audrey traveled the world, touring six continents.
Jim was a formidable softball player and later, a firm and respected softball umpire. He enjoyed many sports such as water skiing, hunting, fishing and bowling. He was a phenomenal gardener, always growing a beautiful garden with enough produce to share with many.
Jim loved making sausage and butchering with Tony Pavlicek (father-in-law), Gordy Pavlicek (brother-in-law), Henry (Dad) and later, with his son, James Jr. (aka Jim). He had the extraordinary ability to fix anything that was well beyond its useful life and taught his son to do the same. Jim enjoyed bridge and card club with Audrey and also fierce card games such as pinochle with his friends and family, especially with his grandchildren.
Jim filled his three children’s childhood with fun, games and love, often telling them that they were the “best part of Mom and his life.” When his grandchildren came along, he was a little bit older, but filled their lives with just as much fun and love. Jim never missed sending annual Grandkids Day cards (a holiday entirely manufactured by his grandchildren) to every one of his grandchildren, enclosing a little cash, and his signature “Loads of Love.”
When Jim was diagnosed with glioblastoma (terminal brain cancer) in February 2022, his only concern was for his family and, in particular, who would take care of his wife, Audrey. This was no different from the way Jim lived his life - all he ever wanted was to take care of, and spend time with, his adoring family. Jim fought a courageous battle against the glioblastoma for his family, rather than himself, and they were lovingly with him every step along the way. Until the very end, his only concern was for Audrey who is now, as promised, lovingly protected by their children and daughter-in-law, Kerry.
Jim will always be remembered as the family teaser with a quick wit and guilty look that revealed the trouble he had caused. His bride, Audrey and family are blessed beyond words to call him theirs and will forever cherish every moment they had with him, sharing in his Loads Of Love, especially now that God has called him home.
Jim is survived by his wife, Audrey and his children, Jim (Kerry) Kostelecky, California/North Dakota; Cindy (Kerry Paulson) Kostelecky, Virginia; Nancy (Greg) Sowards, North Carolina; grandchildren Henry & Audrey Paulson and Gabe (Anna), Savannah & Elizabeth Sowards; great-grandchild James Sowards; siblings Ted (Marge) Kostelecky, Patty Sibet, Marilyn (Ron) Dean, & Ron (Rita) Kostelecky, and brother-in-law Gordy (Linda) Pavlicek along with numerous cousins, nieces, nephews and extended family. He was preceded in death by his parents Henry & Helen Kostelecky, sister, Shirley (Vic) Korpi, and George Sibet.
Mass of Christian burial will be held at 10:00 a.m. Saturday, February 25, 2023, at Corpus Christi Catholic Church, 1919 N Second St, Bismarck, where Jim was a member for over 50 years. Cremation has taken place. A service livestream will be available on the church's website, listed here.
Visitation will be held from 5-6:00 p.m. Friday, February 24 at Parkway Funeral Service, 2330 Tyler Pkwy, Bismarck. A rosary/vigil service will be held at 6:00 p.m.
Burial will be held at 10:00 a.m. Monday, February 27 at the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery, Mandan.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that in honor of Jim, memorials may be sent to the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery, or an online donation be made here.