"Books are a uniquely portable magic." - Stephen King
Jim loved to read. In fact, as long as it was a good book, he wouldn't usually put it down until he was done reading it. Did he have a favourite author you may ask.... well, that answer is simple, Stephen King of course! When not reading, Jim challenged himself daily with the Toronto Star crossword. For Jim, every day on this beautiful planet presented a new challenge and opportunity, and he faced them all head on!
James was born on Tuesday, January 20, 1942 in Chesley to parents Bruno and Wilda (Robertson) Westenberg. He joined older brothers Fred (1937) and Bill (1939). In time, the boys welcomed their younger sisters Pat (1943) and Ruth (1945). The Westenberg family resided in Chesley where Bruno owned and operated a mink ranch. The kids attended Chesley Public School and later, Chesley District High School. It was there that Jim was first introduced to Sharon Ellen Loraine Opie, who was three years his junior. Their lives however took them in separate directions and Jim went to work in the construction field after completing high school. This position enabled him to travel throughout the province working a variety of jobs.
As fate would have it, Brian, Sharon's brother, ran into Jim in 1968. He reported this meeting back to his sister who quickly responded, "Ask him if he wants to take me out?" Jim followed through on that request and often said that he fell in love with Sharon's kids first! The couple were married on March 21, 1970 in Brantford whereby Jim instantly became a father to Sharon's children Jim (1962) and Lorri (1965). After a brief stint living in Owen Sound and a few years on the 4th of Saugeen, the family soon settled on the 6th of Elderslie. It was while living there that the family welcomed Bryanna in 1972. This was also the year that Jim joined Local #1788 as an apprentice electrician. Over the next 35 years Jim worked for Ontario Hydro as an electrician. His incredible work ethic and ability to always get the job done earned him the nickname "Rambo". Stories were commonly told of how Jim didn't subscribe to be a "rule follower", often pushing the envelope in the workplace. Standing on the top rung of a ladder at work that clearly read 'this is not a step" was commonplace for Jim, often to the chagrin of the safety officer. Most of his career was spent at Bruce Power, with a few short stints at other power plants around the province over the years. He was a member of the IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) and retired from the profession in 2007 at the age of 65. As fate would have it, all three of the Westenberg children followed Jim's original dream and entered the field of law enforcement, where they have all made their father proud and flourished in their own careers.
In 1971 Sharon and Jim bought their beloved property on Bruce Road 17. In 1973, Jim began to build their new home, using many of the skills he learned in his younger years. Over the next three years he used all his free time and his own two hands to construct their current home. In November of 1976 the Westenbergs officially moved in and the couple enjoyed this property together for the remaining 41 years of Jim's life.
To say that Jim loved the outdoors would be an understatement. He had a passion for hunting, fishing and trapping, spending countless hours enjoying these pastimes. He was a proud member of the "Half Hour Club" and regularly hunted at a property the group owned together south of Tobermory. Jim was also a member of the Ontario Federation of Anglers & Hunters and assisted his wife with her involvement in Ducks Unlimited. Time was also spent enjoying the outdoors with his family. Over the years the Westenberg family enjoyed countless camping trips and in later years, time at a cottage, where Jim treasured his time with his four grandchildren. "Papa" (as he was affectionately referred to by his grandkids) had a wealth of knowledge and insight that greatly influenced his grandchildren and their lives.
In his free time Jim enjoyed being involved in and watching ANYTHING sports. In his youth he played hockey, baseball and basketball. He was a swimming official during Bryanna's high school years, and enjoyed curling as well as playing "Old Timer's" hockey. When playing wasn't an option anymore, Jim enjoyed watching sports on TV. The New England Patriots was one of his favourite teams and it was common knowledge in the Westenberg household that you didn't bother Jim when he was engaged in watching a sporting event. Anyone that knew Jim was aware of his fondness for a particular brown bottle beverage. He wasn't picky, the kind or temperature of his beer did not matter to him. When it came to music, John Denver and Kenny Rogers were some of Jim's favourite artists. He also made time for his beloved four-legged companions over the years. He and Sharon often had a couple dogs as companions as well as a variety of cats, with Socksie being one of his favourites. Lola, their Scottie is missing him already! Travel was also something that the couple did often. Jim's travels took him to the likes of Hawaii, Alaska, the Caribbean (several times), California, Canada (coast to coast) and Europe, which he had a particular fondness for. They also enjoyed a yearly trip to Cuba. For 28 straight years, he and Sharon travelled to this beautiful island. Over the years they formed many life-long friendships in Cuba but their bond with Miguel and his wife Odalys stood out. In fact, the couple has travelled to Canada to visit the Westenbergs a few times in recent years and were here with Sharon and Jim, experiencing their first Canadian winter, at the time of Jim's death.
Jim was a hardworking, honest man who wasn't afraid to speak his mind and show off his quick wit. He could be opinionated and at times was unfiltered. He also had a flair for the English language, as those who were close to him were aware. "This here is the one thing" often preceded a dissertation (fact-filled or not) that was soooo Jim. He had a variety of T-shirts that he cherished. One of his favourites read, "Does this shirt make my Bass look big?"
Sadly, Jim passed away suddenly, after an enjoyable breakfast with his wife and a small group of friends, on Thursday, December 28, 2017 in his 76th year.
Beloved husband and best friend of Sharon (Opie). Loving father of Jim (Diane) of Windsor, Lorri (Dan) Trafelet of Southampton and Bryanna (Scott) Herniman of Kitchener. Jim will live on in the hearts and minds of his grandchildren Emily, Shane, Brett and Reese as well as his siblings Pat (Roy) Ratcliffe of Mount Forest, Bill (Nancy) Westenberg of Wiarton and Ruth Farrow of Holland Centre. He will be fondly remembered by Sharon’s brothers Brian (Imka) Colyer of Brantford, Dean Opie (Debbie Moore) of Port Elgin and his aunts Gertrude Watson and Irma McSporran and their families. Jim was predeceased by his brother Fred (Betsy), nephews Randy and Steven and his parents Bruno and Wilda (Robertson) Westenberg
A celebration of life for Jim will be held on May 26, 2018 from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Westenberg family home. Words of Remembrance will be held at 3 p.m. Please join us to commemorate his life well lived.
Memorial donations to the Grey-Bruce Animal Shelter, Saugeen Memorial Hospital Foundation or Chesley Hospital Foundation would be appreciated as expressions of sympathy.Send to friend