James Lester Vondemkamp


James L. Vondemkamp, 90, passed away Tuesday, August 14, 2018 at his home surrounded by his loving family.

Jim was born in Kelly, Kansas on November 17, 1927 to William & Mary Vondemkamp.  At the age of 10, he became a “cornhusker” when his family moved from Kansas to Nebraska.  He was reared and graduated from St. Cecilia Catholic School in 1946.  He served his country as a member of the US Army, in Korea.  After his army duty was complete, he migrated to Buckeye country to attend Akron Applied Art Academy.  After graduating, he worked in the advertising field for Bear Furniture, Fisher Spellman Advertising, Olson Electronics and Master Marketing where he retired.  After retirement, he kept busy by working for Akron Dental Labs as a part-time delivery man.

In November of 1955, he met the love of his life, Jean McGrath, a nurse working at St. Thomas Hospital.  They met at a dance at Annunciation Church. On June 2, 1956, they married at Annunciation. 

Jim’s love of music and art was a major part of his life.  He taught himself to play the accordion and, at the age of 8, won first place in an accordion radio competition.  He also was in two bands where he played the piano, electronic keyboards and the cordavox.  For many years, he would pack up his music equipment and entertain the residents of various nursing homes, senior centers and AARP groups.  Jim also loved drawing and painting, and has many of his beautiful paintings hanging throughout his home.  He also wrote and illustrated a story book for each of his 10 grandchildren.  One of the things he and his family looked forward to each year was the family Christmas card which Jim drew and designed from 1957 until the year 2000. 

Jim had a deep love for our precious Lord and had a very strong Catholic faith.  He was an active member of St. Paul’s Catholic Church for 62 years where he was a Eucharistic Minister primarily to shut-in’s, a Funeral Acolyte, a member of the Men’s Fellowship Group and played the piano in the contemporary choir for many years.  Whenever the church needed a sign made or an item painted, they called Jim.  He even painted the address numbers on the building of the school while standing on the roof of his car so he could reach it.  He was always willing to help, no matter how big or small the task.

He is preceded in death by his parents William and Mary, sister Elizabeth, brother Gerald, and son-in-law David Cook.  He is survived by his beloved “Girls”:  his wife Jean (McGrath) of 62 years; daughters:  Mary Cook (David – deceased), Susan Garrett (fiancé Lenny Moore), Johanne Wagner, and Valerie Scalf (Scott).  Grandchildren:  Dr. Jill Barnes (Brian), Jessie Cook, Kelli England (Leon), Katie Cook (fiancé Cory Solomon), Megan Wilson (Brian), Aaron Garrett, Patrick & Tom deAguiar, Kristina Hartman (Sean), James Scalf (Stephanie).  Great-grandchildren:  Zachary, Camden, Reagan and Davie May.  Brothers:  Paul and Richard of Nebraska, Sisters:   Ruby Wepler of Hudson, Ohio and Marlene Straughn of Colorado.  In-laws:  Ed and Susan Boles of Cuyahoga Falls, OH and Steve and Teresa Vargo of Akron, OH, as well as many nieces and nephews. 

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Saturday at 11:00 am at St. Paul Catholic Church where the family will receive friends one hour prior to services.  Interment Holy Cross Cemetery In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. Paul’s Church 1580 Brown St., Akron, OH 44301 or to ClearPath Hospice and Home Health 475 Wolf Ledges Parkway, Akron, OH 44311.