A Family Funeral Home
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James Ralph Haack

December 28, 1937 - September 14, 2021
Racine, WI

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Visitation

Saturday, September 25, 2021
10:00 AM to 11:00 AM CDT
St. Richard Catholic Church
1503 Grand Avenue
Racine, WI 53403

Service

Saturday, September 25, 2021
11:00 AM CDT
St. Richard Catholic Church
1503 Grand Avenue
Racine, WI 53403

Contributions


At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.

St. Richard Catholic Church

St. Vincent de Paul Racine

Our Harmony Club

Senior Companion Program

Life Story / Obituary


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James Ralph Haack (Jim), born December 28, 1937 in Rio Creek, Wisconsin, passed away after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease, hastened by the loss of community connections due to Covid. Jim was born in a tiny curve in the road near Algoma, a surprise to all. He was born challenged, with significant eye problems that led to being legally blind from birth. He was also challenged by a huge, disjointed family, which eventually grew to three full sisters, one full brother and at least 14 half-siblings.

One of the best things that happened to Jim was his spending ten years as a boarding student at the Wisconsin School for the Visually Handicapped in Janesville. The loving teachers and staff became the family he needed to learn about life and prepare for his future. They taught him music, and as he grew, he progressed from a violin all the way to an upright bass, an instrument he played professionally in all genres of music even though he could not read music. They also taught him to tune pianos, and further training in Washington state taught him to rebuild and repair pianos. He tuned for the greatest piano artists at the Performing Arts Center and other major venues, as well as the pianos in hundreds of homes in the Milwaukee area. While he could never drive a car, he was a familiar sight on his trusty Raleigh bicycle as he rode from job to job. Most weekends he played in restaurants, clubs, weddings, festivals and parties. One of his favorite gigs was a summer playing jazz on the Clipper Ship as it cruised on Lake Michigan. When he wasn’t creating music, he loved to work on electronics, despite his limited vision, and could repair anything electrical. He created a life that included all his favorite things, faith, family, music, electronics and friends. Jim never let his blindness slow him down, nor did he suffer from self-pity or anger at his challenges. He just got on with life.

Fittingly, Jim met his wife Linda (Little) on a blind date, and it didn’t take long before they knew this was the real deal. They married and Jim was finally in a family where he was valued and loved like an original family member, especially by Linda’s mother Peggy and her five brothers. Jim was also very close to his little brother Ardin and his family in Algoma, who visited often and became a wonderful extended family for Jim, Linda and Peggy.

Jim was the most supportive husband ever created, and while Linda worked, he and Mom kept the home fires burning, the pianos tuned around town, created music with a senior orchestra and kept a steady stream of kitties happy. He was never known to get mad except when seeing injustices in the world. He never complained or made life difficult for anyone, but was happiest when he could help someone, especially by repairing electronics for them. He had a strong faith and appreciated his faith family at St. Richard’s parish, where he volunteered as an usher and eucharistic minister.

While Jim and Linda did not have children, their home was open to the family and welcomed quite a number for extended stays. Linda’s mom Peggy stayed for 25 years and was the mother Jim had never had. Brothers from both sides and others were welcomed with open arms.

Jim and Linda loved to travel and were blessed to have visited Hawaii and Europe several times, as well as an annual trip to California to see Linda’s brothers and to thaw out. Favorite memories included biking through the countryside in Holland, going to the top of the Eiffel Tower in the pouring rain, visiting the Tower of London, the Rose Bowl parade, Macy’s fireworks and fabulous gardens around the world.

There were many good years, but eventually Jim started a slow decline in memory diagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease. He kept going with family help, Gary Craanen’s companionship, and the Our Harmony Respite program until it paused in March of 2020. He became a victim of Covid-19 through the loss of connections to the community.

Unfortunately, pneumonia finally brought him down and while that got under control, he was just unable to get back on his feet despite giving it a tremendous effort. To the end, he maintained his gentle spirit, his sweetness and his gratitude for all his caregivers, especially the last few weeks with support from Hospice Alliance, Dawn Vlach and Gary Craanen, and the endless support of Dr. Marshal Mirviss.

Secure in a belief of heavenly reunion, Jim leaves behind his loving wife, Linda, his brothers-in-law Phil (Karen) and Peter and Paul Little, nieces Kris, Jenny, Stacy, Jane and their families, cousins Mary and Russ Tooley, and the Guild and Little families, and countless friends, especially Linda & Randy Feest, Pat and Cheryl Chapman, and all his friends from St Richard’s Catholic Church, especially Fr. Juan and Fr. Ron, many friends from St Vincent de Paul Racine and Dawn Vlach and Our Harmony Club, and the Senior Companion Program, any of which would appreciate a memorial in his name.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Richard Catholic Church, 1503 Grand Avenue, Saturday September 25, 2021, 11:00 a.m. Visitation will be held at church Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until time of Mass at 11:00 a.m.

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