116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
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James (Jim) Robert Seedorff passed away on Feb. 19, 2021, in Oelwein, Iowa, at the age of 82.
Jim was born on June 17, 1938, to Mary Wessels Seedorff and Lloyd Seedorff. Jim grew up at Maryville, named after his mother's gas station and restaurant run by the family at the corner of Highway 3 and 187 between Arlington and Lamont. He attended school in Lamont, where he participated in band as a tuba player, as well as speech and drama activities, and graduated in 1955. He attended Wartburg College in Waverly for a year in the mid-1950s until he and the Dean agreed it probably wasn't a good fit (Jim would never say he was kicked out, rather "invited to not come back"), then headed to Los Angeles, Calif., with some cousins to take classes in geology and join a motorcycle "club" that sometimes rode with the Hell's Angels.
Jim later returned to Iowa and for a time owned and managed a cafe in Oelwein before taking over Seedorff Oil Company from his father Lloyd and establishing Hustler Tire Corporation. He also partnered with his brother, Ron, for a time on the gas station at Maryville, and owned his own gas stations, including a Skelly station in Strawberry Point that later became one of a couple Jim's Quickstop convenience stores in the Strawberry Point/Oelwein area. He also owned Coralville Transport, a trucking company, for several years.
Always one to seek out fun and exciting things to do, Jim obtained his pilot's license in the early 1960s and maintained it for decades, at one point co-owning a small plane at the airport in Oelwein which he'd use for vacations and business trips throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Jim owned (and crashed) more than a few Harleys in his day. He also rode a bull, very briefly, as a challenge during a rodeo in Oelwein in 1960. He loved subjecting his family to bluegrass and polka music and helped establish the annual Backbone Bluegrass Festival. In 1978 Jim played in the finals of the Sahara World Championship of Blackjack in Las Vegas, taking 6th place. Then in 1980, the "towering, bespectacled Seedorff," as the World Championship of Blackjack bulletin described him, won the Championship and a feature story on ABC Wide World of Sports (a television program from the last century). He went on to try his hand at the European Blackjack Championship in Monaco but didn't place. He and his wife Sandy also owned a small houseboat on the Mississippi River in Prairie du Chien, Wis., for several years, where he earned the name "Captain Bam Bam."
He married Lorraine Ward Tripp in 1970. They had a daughter, Leanne, and later divorced. He married Sandra Vanselow Smith in 1983, and they have spent nearly 40 years together.
Jim was the sort of guy who could travel halfway around the world and run into somebody he knew. If he didn't know you, he soon would, and he'd remember your name, where you were from, who your family was, and myriad other details most people forget. And he'd still remember everything decades later. He even got to know Frank Sinatra while they briefly sat together at a bar in Vegas. His optimism and gusto for life was never slowed by physical disability, despite suffering from Charcot Marie Tooth Disease, a form of muscular dystrophy, all his life.
He has often expressed his gratitude for the staff of the Oelwein Health Care Center, where he and Sandy have lived for the last several years and he would want to be sure to include his thanks one more time. We are all grateful for the excellent care and attention they provided, particularly at the end.
Jim is survived by his wife, Sandy; a brother, Ronald (Joyce) Seedorff of Arlington; a daughter, Leanne Seedorff, of Iowa City; stepson, John (Gail) Smith of Oelwein; stepdaughter, Stacy (Bob) Jones of Cedar Rapids; a grandson, Aidan; seven stepgrandchildren, several stepgreat-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and great-nieces/-nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, many close and dear aunts, uncles, and cousins on both the Seedorff and Wessels sides; and a much-loved Lhasa Apso named Patch.
A memorial service will be held at a later time. In the meantime, friends and family are invited to view a photo memorial at https://youtu.be/UnhFCupZNNU .
For someone who enjoyed new people and new experiences, this is the next great adventure. He'll know a LOT of people on the other side.