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James "Jim" Michael Merfeld


Bellingham, Wash.

Jim Merfeld passed away Tuesday, May 12, 2020, in Bellingham, Wash. He was born on Feb. 6, 1955, in Cedar Rapids, the son of Mike and Kathleen (McDonnell) Merfeld.

Jim attended All Saints Elementary School and Regis High School, graduating in 1973. At Regis, he played basketball and baseball and was a Des Moines Register all-state football player. He developed his natural aptitude for mechanics, which came from his father, by working on his 1953 Willy's Jeep and repairing residential air conditioners as summer jobs in high school and college. In 1977, Jim graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in mechanical engineering and subsequently earned a professional engineer certification.

Drawn to the Pacific Northwest, Jim settled in Seattle and worked for Boeing as an engineer. A few years later, he embarked on a long career in commercial heating and air conditioning controls (HVAC) design engineering. He met, and on Sept. 3, 1983, he married the love of his life, Sidney Anderson, originally from Fargo, N.D. Their two children — Noel and Kara — were born in Seattle. The family sought a smaller community, closer to outdoor activities, and moved north to Bellingham, near the Canadian border, in 1994. Noel and Kara grew up boating, hiking, camping and being active in sports. Jim started United Energy Engineers in 1994 and was proud of the sophistication and reliability of service it provided to commercial contractors. He sold the company and retired in 2019.

Jim pursued multiple hobbies, each with vigor and always while on the move: He traveled around the world with Sidney; boated and crabbed in the San Juan Islands off the Washington coast; developed the neighborhood beach; kayaked and camped with his friends; trekked in Nepal; and played basketball throughout his adult life. Rugged and always seeking adventure, he mountain-biked until the last two weeks of his life.

Jim was a friend to all — indeed, he was the ringleader among his friends. From his earliest years he had a rambunctious, mischievous curiosity; family, friends and children each tell stories of the places his creativity led. More than anything, he lived a conviction that each moment held meaning and an abundance of possibility.

Survivors include his wife, Sidney Anderson of Bellingham, Wash.; his son, Noel Merfeld of Seattle; his daughter, Kara Merfeld of Eugene, Ore.; his siblings, Joan (John) Roberts of Marion, Janet Merfeld, M.D., of Cedar Rapids, Tom (Ann) Merfeld of Madison, Wis., Pat (Owen) MacDonald of Lenexa, Kan., Mark (Julie) Merfeld of Clive, Iowa, and Ellen (Jeff) Morrow of Cedar Rapids.

He was preceded in death by his parents and brother-in-law, Dr. Kevin Murray.

A private memorial service will be held at a later date. A memorial to fund the “Jim Merfeld Future Engineer Award” has been established with the Xavier Foundation.

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