Obituary: Jimmie Wetzel

Jimmie Ray “Jim” Wetzel, 67, of Morrill, passed away March 25, 2022, peacefully at Amberwell/Hiawatha Hospital, where he had been a patient the past week, after a long battle with cancer.

Jim was born to Daniel and May Ester Hay Wetzel (Luster), on Dec. 26, 1954. He graduated from Morrill Grade School with the class of 1969 and from Sabetha High School with the class of 1973. He was always a “Morrill Tiger” at heart. If you have ever entered the town of Morrill from the west, you will have seen the face of the tiger, which he had painted on his shed. He always touched it up very carefully.

Jim grew up in Morrill, riding his bicycle on the sidewalks and streets, playing on the school grounds, the ball diamonds and jumping from roof top to roof top of downtown stores. His friends were not only the kids from town, but those who rode their bicycles in from the country.

As a boy, Jim worked at Sun Springs for Herman and Della Griebat, cleaning the dressing rooms, mopping up the water that was tracked in and then swimming in the double pool. He rode his bike to Sun Springs. He also rode his bicycle to help with the dairy at Dick McKim’s and out to Sunshine Farms to put up hay with Warren Ploeger and his sons.

A stop at LaVon Sperline, or Clyde McKim’s Filling Station, or Meyer’s Grocery (Homer’s), was a daily event, except on Sundays when no business was open. On Sunday, Jim’s parents made sure he was in Sunday School and Church services at the Morrill Baptist Church. During the summer, he was always at Vacation Bible School. Jim was baptized in the Morrill Baptist Church around the age of 12 years. 

Jim was very athletic. At Morrill, he participated in the three sports they had – softball, basketball and track. In track, he was a star sprinter! He was in track also during his school years at Sabetha.

In 1997, Jim was baptized again as an adult at the pond of a friends, Galen and Linda Ackerman, by a brother in Christ, Mike Oom. After his baptism, he assisted Mike with the baptism of eight others. While Jim had known about Jesus as a child, it was then that he truly came to know Jesus personally.

Jim’s faith was very important to him. He became and remained an active member of NorthRidge Church, where he taught Children’s Sunday School and was involved with “Recovery Through Christ.” Jim loved helping his church and church family as well as others, using his many natural skills. He loved serving in the custodial department of the church and would very often sit down with the children that came to the Family Development Center and eat lunch with them.

In turn, the children adored “Mr. Jim.” As an adult, Jim worked for Bollinger Roofing and later for Barrett Roofing. Later, he served as custodian in the Sabetha School District and also at his church. He was the creator/owner/operator of “Helping Hands Ministries.” Many people received help with things at home or on a vehicle from Jim without him giving so much as a thought to receiving anything back. He was simply following his Servant Savior. He served in Prison Ministries, going into the prisons or jails to share the Hope and Saving Love and Grace of Jesus Christ. 

Jim was married in his early 20s to Renee Shroyer (Koch). To this union was born a son, Michael. Jim is survived by his son, Michael Koch, his wife and three children of Tennessee; by his sister, Linda and her husband Phil Close of Salina, and their children; a special cousin, Cindy Eppens of Hiawatha; and a host of church family and friends.

He is also survived by a man closer than most brothers. He said, “I never thought I’d have a brother, but I do now. ‘Doctor Doug’ [Grimm] could not be closer to me than a real brother. I just can’t believe it!”

He is also survived by Tucker, who has been welcomed to the home of his “new uncle,” Doug!

At Jim’s request, a casual outdoor funeral service and BBQ will be held at NorthRidge Church at 316 Lincoln St. in Sabetha at noon, Friday, April 1. Donations in Jim’s memory may be made to his church.

The Sabetha Herald 3/30/2022

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