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James "Jim" Zumbrunnen

Cedar Rapids

James "Jim" B. Zumbrunnen passed away Monday, June 11, 2018, at his home in Cedar Rapids. Visitation: 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Thursday, June 14, at Murdoch Funeral Home & Cremation Service, Marion. Service: 2:30 p.m. Thursday, June 14, at the funeral home officiated by Christine Wagner-Hecht. Burial: Campbell Cemetery in Bertram with military honors provided by Marion American Legion Post No. 298.
Jim was born April 16, 1940, in Monticello, Iowa, the son of Bernard and Leona Zumbrunnen. He attended Sacred Heart School in Monticello and Immaculate Conception and McKinley in Cedar Rapids. In 1959, Jim suffered a broken neck while boating in Little Rock, Ark., that left him paralyzed from the neck down. The doctors told him that he was destined to spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair. Spending eight weeks in traction, he slowly started to regain movement in his arms and legs. He had told the doctors earlier that he intended to walk out of the hospital. After being fitted for a neck brace, he did just that. After another three months of wearing the brace, he had recovered to the point where he could go on living normally, with the exception of residual partial paralysis of his right arm and hand.
In 1961, Jim, affectionately known as "Zombie" by his classmates and Air Force buddies, enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, not revealing his neck injury. After a year of tech school, he served as a missile maintenance technician. During this time, Jim achieved the maximum four-year rank of A1C in less than two years and became "Crew Chief." His "MACE" missile wing at Kadena Air Force Base was awarded an Outstanding Unit Award and a Presidential Citation with Oak Leaf Cluster for the pre-target date of activation of missile sites on Okinawa, Japan. These missiles were part of the effort in winning the Cold War. Jim was also awarded the Good Conduct Medal, Longevity Award and National Defense Service Medal. His commemoratives include Air Force Commendation, Vietnam support and the Cold War Victory Medal. Jim spent the last year of his service at Walker Air Force Base in Roswell, N.M., as a technician on the "Hounddog" cruise missile. He was very proud of his service to his country and very patriotic, as evidenced by the flag always flying at his home. Jim credited the Air Force for forming him into the person he would be for the rest of his life. The display of the Air Force flag and other memorabilia at his home are a testament to his pride of his Air Force service. Jim was a member of "Tacmissileers," "The Association of Air Force Missileers," and the American Legion Post 298, Marion, Iowa.
Jim was united in marriage to DeElda Kay "Dee" Venenga on Oct. 28, 1967. She passed away Jan. 22, 2004. Jim worked at several area businesses including Quaker Oats, LeFebure Corp., CEI Equipment and Kraus Equipment, which became part of Highway Equipment Co., where he was customer service manager. He was very mechanically inclined and could repair almost anything. In his youth, he enjoyed hunting, fishing, bowling, shooting pool and playing golf, admitting that he wasn't very good at any of them. The residual paralysis of his right arm was a factor. Jim also loved Iowa Hawkeye Football, NASCAR racing, pro football and spending winters in deep southern Texas.
Jim was preceded in death by his parents; brother, Bob; and wife, Dee.
Jim is survived by his daughter, DeAnn (Dennis) Steinke; granddaughters, Nicole and Amanda; great-grandchildren, Ayda and Kade Thomas; and nephew, Joe (Janice) Zumbrunnen.
Memorials may be directed to Camp Courageous in Jim's memory.
Please share a memory of Jim at www.murdochfuneralhome.com under obituaries.