James Kroening, Sr. obituary
James W. Kroening, Sr., (90) of New Port Richey, Fla. was born on July 25, 1932, in Plainview, Minn. He passed away from natural causes on December 22, 2022, after a brief stay at the Bear Creek Nursing Center in New Port Richey. Jim’s health was adversely impacted in his last year due to losing most of his sight due to macular degeneration and complications from skin cancer.
After graduating from Plainview High School in 1951, Jim married Ann Louise Martin, from Wabasha, Minn. and then trained at Gale Institute in Minneapolis, Minn. as a telegraph operator. He used those skills to work for the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad prior to serving in the United States Army’s 7th Armored Division at Camp Roberts, Calif. and the 82nd Airborne in Fort Bragg, N.C. from 1953 through 1955.
After service, Jim went back to work for the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad as a depot agent in Woodstock, Minn. In 1958, he began a 38-year career with the United States Postal Service as a rural letter carrier in Woodstock and Arlington, Minn. He retired in 1996 after driving well over a million miles without a single accident. Jim exemplified the unofficial motto of the Postal Service “Neither rain nor snow nor heat nor gloom of night stays these carriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds”, constantly battling the notorious blizzards of southwest Minnesota to deliver mail to farmsteads. He also worked part time from 1964 to 1969 as Civil Defense Director for Pipestone County, Minn. and as a carpenter for a local contractor in the 70’s.
Jim was a jack-of-all-trades. He completed two homes for his family in Pipestone and Arlington, Minn. He could do carpentry, plumbing, electrical, metal work, mechanical, etc. If something was broken and needed fixing, you called Jim. He also was an avid outdoorsman enjoying camping, boating, fishing, and the natural environment. After retiring to their cabin near Aitkin, Minn. he realized a life-long dream and obtained his private pilot’s license and flew his Piper Cherokee all over northern Minnesota. Later he returned to near where he grew up and spent summers in Lake City, Minn. and winters in New Port Richey, and rekindled his love of golf.
When his second son Michael was born with severe mental and physical disabilities, Jim championed rights and opportunities for the mentally disabled. In the early 1970’s, Jim served as Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Hope Day Activity Center in Ruthton, Minn., and a three-year term on the Board of Directors of the Minnesota Association of Retarded Children.
Jim was proceeded in death by his parents, five siblings, wife Ann (Martin) Kroening and son Michael. He is survived by his son Wes Kroening (Pipestone, Minn.), daughter Mary Kroening Tompkins (Columbia, Mo.), son Paul Kroening (Linville, N.C.), five grandchildren and five great grandchildren.
Jim’s calm demeanor and ready smile will greatly be missed by his family and friends. A memorial service is being planned for early summer near his hometown of Plainview, Minn. The family suggests, in lieu of flowers, that memorial donations in his name be made to Special Olympics Minnesota (specialolympicsminnesota.org).