James (Jim) Alphonse Gavaert passed into eternal life at home after a battle with cancer, surrounded by family and friends on May 19, 2023. Jim was born to the late Sylvian and Helen (Weyenberg) Gavaert in Detroit, MI on December 8, 1938, before moving closer to family in Wisconsin. He graduated from Kimberly High School in 1956, married Patricia Vander Wielen and they had 2 boys and a girl. Following his divorce, he married the widowed Judy (Rusch) Swick in 1984 and was blessed with 4 more boys that he loved and cherished like his own. In 2016, after Judy passed, he started dating Bonnie Griesbach, who he loved spending time with and who was with him through his final days. Jim was a salesman and entrepreneur. After high school, he joined the army reserves and worked at the Van Roy printing company. Jim started and ran Jim Gavaert Realty, where he was successful for many years. He opened the Forrest Run Pet Cemetery with Bob Wittmann in Sherwood nearly 40 years ago, sold pumps and seals with Dick Reetz, and ended his career as a realtor at Coldwell Banker working with Julie Jedwabny. He had a very active personal and professional life. Family and friends meant everything to Jim. He was a fun loving and supportive dad, grandpa, brother, uncle, co-worker and friend, known and loved by many. Jim was always there and willing to listen and provide guidance. He took a genuine interest in people and made friends easily. He had a strong faith, was a member of St John Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Sherwood, and enjoyed participating in his weekly bible study group. He also enjoyed playing cards with friends each week and occasionally trying his luck at casinos. Jim collected several different musical clocks that were set minutes apart so as not to overlap the sound/commotion of each. He encouraged the grandkids to play in the water fountain so that extra clothes were needed and took them for walks by the apple tree. He enjoyed hosting large family Christmas get-togethers, and spending time with his family. Jim was passionate about the Green Bay Packers after attending the Ice Bowl, spending decades cheering them on and collecting numerous Packer items, leading him to be known as Grandpa Packers to his grandchildren. He enjoyed spending time boating and fishing with family at the cottage on Shawano Lake. Jim loved video taping and was rarely seen at sporting and family events without his video camera. In addition to watching Packer Games, he was an avid Kimberly sports fan and enjoyed watching the Wisconsin Badgers. Jim also coached girls and boys basketball at Holy Cross School in Kaukauna when his kids were young. Jim is survived by his significant other Bonnie Griesbach, his daughter Bev (Russ) Keller, his two sons: Alan (Shannon) Gavaert and Craig Gavaert, his first wife Patricia Gavaert, his four step-sons: Gary (Kay) Swick, Guy (Patsy) Swick, Ryan (Lori) Swick and Reed (Amy) Swick, twelve grandchildren: Jamie (fiance’ Kevin) Keller, Lindsey Keller, Bailie and Brice Swick, Spencer (Emilly) Swick, Morgan (Shaquille) Pabst, Hannah and Sophia Swick, Hallorin, Royal, Katherine and Elizabeth Swick, two great grandchildren: Emmitt and Erza Pabst, his sister Sharon Hackel, in-laws: Joanne Verkuilen, Darlene Gavaert, Bernie Hackel, Roland Jr. (Carol) Rusch, Dick (Marge) Swick, MaryAnn Swick, Marilyn Kamps, Jacci (Dave) Vandehey, Jill (Tom) Haufe, Tom (LouAnn) Vander WIelen, Aggie Vanden Oever, and Ceil Sweere, Bonnie’s daughter Kim (Sean) Lotten, sons: Mike (Kelly) Griesbach and Steve (Chris) Griesbach and her 9 grandchildren, along with many nieces, nephews, cousins and close friends. Jim was preceded in death by his parents, Sylvian and Helen Gavaert, brothers: Earl Gavaert, Don Verkuilen and Bob Verkuilen; his second wife, Judy Gavaert and his grandson, Justin Swick; in-laws: Evelyn Rusch, Patricia (Dale) Olson, Norbert (Carol) Rusch, Bill Swick, Bud Kamps, Pat (Age) Vande Burgt, Earl “Butch” (Jean) Swick, Bert (Art) Wachendonk, Charlie (Gert) Vander Wielen, Joe VandenOever, Margaret Vander Wielen, Jim Sweere, Bernie (Jerry) Mignon, special family friends, Roger and Corrine Schroeder, and various other family and friends.
Funeral services will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, May 25, 2023 at St John Sacred Heart Catholic Church, N369 Military Road, Sherwood. Visitation will be held at the Verkuilen-Van Deurzen Family Funeral Home, 2401 Fieldcrest Drive, Kaukauna on Wednesday, May 24, 2023 from 4:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. A vigil service will be held at 7:00 p.m. There will also be visitation at the church on Thursday, May 25, 2023 from 9:30 a.m. until 10:45 a.m. Please wear Green Bay Packers attire in memory of Jim. Special thanks to Tami the navigator and the team at St Elizabeth’s Cancer Center, and the team at Moments Hospice, especially Melissa and Linda.
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