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Obituary: James Albert Lang

As received from Memorial Chapel Funeral and Cremation Service:

James (Jim) Albert Lang, 79, of Chassell, MI passed away on March 17, 2023. Jim was born on September 19, 1943, in Negaunee to Hugh and Florence (Nurkala) Lang. Florence later married Arvo Laakso and made their home in Nestoria. Arvo was a special addition to Jim’s upbringing and life. Jim and his siblings, Tom, Kathryn and Stephan were raised in Nestoria, near to their grandparents, August and Lempi Nurkala. August was a foreman for the railroad that ran through Nestoria. Jim and his brother Tom would often hop on the train with their grandfather. Some trips were all the way to Milwaukee to visit family while others were short trips to local fishing holes for the day and they’d catch a ride home on the return trip to Nestoria. On a good day, fish would be brought back for their grandmother to prepare for dinner. As an older brother, Jim would always make sure his younger brother and sister, Steph and Kathryn, had rides to all of the dances and events they attended. Jim took good care of his family.

Jim attended the Imperial Heights Elementary School and graduated from Champion High School in 1961. He furthered his education focusing on History and Social Studies, earning a degree from Northern Michigan University in 1965.

Jim began his career in education as a teacher and principal at the Sidnaw/Covington Township Schools, where he helped to set up the Title 1 program. He then taught at the Eben High School until 1968. He moved to the Adams Township Schools where he taught in the Jeffers High School until 1983. Additional education and credits were obtained to earn a Master Degree in Administration from Western University. He taught 2 nd grade for six years at the South Range Elementary School and became the principal until his retirement in 2001, completing 36 years in education. During his tenure with the elementary school, he was instrumental with his colleagues in obtaining the new school in 1996.

Jim enjoyed camping, reading and watching westerns (aka Horsesh*t and Gunpowder). Jim’s knowledge of History and Social Studies was very apparent to all around him. Watching Jeopardy was a favorite show of his, in which he would often know almost all the answers. He was helpful with his daughters’ History homework, and rather than telling them the quick answer they wanted, he usually gave them a complete history lesson on the topic.

Basketball was a sport that Jim enjoyed playing in his younger days and continued his love for at Jeffers High School, where he would keep stats and run the scoreboard. He also coached several seasons of basketball at Jeffers. Jim always took his daughter, Kristy, with him, teaching her the game and was the first in their neighborhood to add a basketball court to their driveway at home. The two often spent hours just shooting hoops and spending time together. Jim was often found outside with Kristy and the small group of neighborhood kids who gathered to play, coaching and helping them with technique.

In his high school and early college days, Jim spent time hanging out with his friends in Michigamme. The family had a cherished vintage 1929 Ford pickup that they called The Jalopy. Jim wired up horns on the front grill that would ‘tweet’. He earned a nickname from his friends, Tweeter, which has been used fondly throughout his life.

Jim married Shirley Harris in 1967 in Wakefield, Michigan. In 1968, their daughter, Kristy, was born. They settled in South Range.

Jim married Joan Lang on June 23, 1984. They resided in L’Anse until 1987 and moved to Chassell. Jim and Joan spent time traveling around the country to destinations such as Branson, Nashville, Las Vegas, Mount Rushmore, Colorado and California, to name a few. They also took some local rides on his Goldwing motorcycle. They often stayed in Alston, especially in the summer. Saturday Night Sauna was a frequent event, with many friends and family sharing Jim’s grilled food and many laughs, while the grandchildren played outside and began their love for a ‘good steam’. Jim was a dog lover and spoiled not only his own dogs Meesha and Lady, but all of the Grand-Dogs too.

Jim is survived by his loving wife, Vivian Joan Lang; beloved daughter Kristy (Todd) Laitinen, step-children Craig (Lesly) Hiltunen and Meg Hiltunen; sister Kathryn Laakso and brother Stephan (Julie) Laakso. Sister-in-laws, Diane Lang, Barbara (Fran) Tossava, and Bernice (Dug) Goble and Brother-in-law Jim (Carol) Seppanen. Grandsons, Matthew Laitinen, Alex (Courtney Harris) Tarvainen, Shawn (Briana) Ricker, Ryan Hiltunen, Wesley (Nicole) Ricker, Kyle (Audra Thurston) Hiltunen and Lucas Tarvainen. Great Grandchildren, Michael Dabroski and Madison Ricker. Special nephews Darren Lang and Tyler Laakso. Numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.

Preceding him in death were his parents, brother Thomas Lang, nephew Donnell Lang, grandson Ryan Ricker, numerous aunts, uncles and cousins, including very special aunt and uncle, Phyllis (Nurkala) and Douglass Luke, who played a big part in Jim’s younger years.

There will be no funeral services and the family will have a private celebration of Jim’s life at a later date.

To view this obituary or to send condolences to the family, please visit www.memorialchapel.net.

The Memorial Chapel Funeral & Cremation Service – Mt. View Chapel of South Range is assisting the family with the arrangements.

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