James's Story

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James W. Van Velzer, Sr., passed away peacefully in his sleep at Baptist Village Rehabilitation Center on November 21, 2017, at the age of 91. A veteran of World War II, James served with bravery and courage through 130 days of frontline combat for which he was awarded the Combat Infantryman's Badge and the Bronze Star.
James was born March 20, 1926 on the family farm in Sullivan County, Missouri outside of a hamlet called Green Castle to Oleva Guffey and Paul G. Van Velzer. Upon High School graduation in 1944, James enlisted in the United States Army. After the war, he married Virginia McFarland in 1946, whom he had met during his military training two years prior.
The young couple moved to Virginia's hometown of Claremore, Oklahoma in 1947 and had two children. James was a hard worker, cared for his family, and was an active citizen of the community. He valued education and ensured that both of his children earned college degrees to develop their own successful careers, for which they are grateful.
James went on to become a highly skilled electrician, as an independent contractor then as a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, ending his career in 1988. The electrical systems in many of the buildings in the Claremore and Tulsa region were touched by his very capable and competent hands.
Widowed in 1993, James eventually met and married J. Kehaulani Lewis, sharing several tender, loving years together. He made many friends, often sharing good times, a game of dominoes, or shooting pool with them at the Claremore Senior Citizen's Center.
James is survived by his two sisters, Livina Perkins and Pauline Borin; his son, James, Jr.; his daughter, Mary; three grandchildren, Andrew Van Velzer, Matthew Van Velzer and Rebecca Dunn; and five great-grandchildren. He is preceded in death by his parents, Paul G. and Oleva Van Velzer; his brothers, Gene and Everett Van Velzer; his first wife, Virginia; and his second wife, J. Kehaulani.
James would ask that we not be sad at his passing. He would ask we care for each other; live in a law-abiding manner, respect the beliefs and customs of others and help those less fortunate than ourselves.
A Memorial Service will take place at 2 p.m., Dec. 11, 2017 at Blue Starr Church of Christ in Claremore, Oklahoma preceded by a viewing at 1 p.m.. Visitation is also scheduled on Sunday, December 10, from 2-4 p.m. at Rice Funeral Home in Claremore.
All are welcome to attend and celebrate the life of our father, brother, citizen-soldier, friend, and patriot, James.
Published on December 6, 2017
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