Name: James Glen Wetzel
Age: 81 Address: 58489 State Hwy. 38, Bigfork, MN. 56628
Date of Death: 11/22/20 Place of Death: At home in Bigfork
Date of Birth: 6/24/39 Place of Birth: Waseca, MN.
Survived By: Wife Karen Wetzel, son Joe Wetzel and wife Chris of Grover, Wyoming, daughter Linda and husband Bart McCully of BelAir, Md., 7 grandchildren; Brendan, Olivia, and Aidan McCully, Cody Whitmore, wife Becca and son Liam, Asefa, Habtamu and Jack Wetzel.
Proceeded By: Parents Frank and Agnes Wetzel, and two brothers Richard and Art Wetzel. Visitation: ........
Service: Celebration Of Life to be held on June 2021 Burial: At Sakatah Cemetery, Waterville, MN on November 30th.
History James was raised on a family farm north of Waterville, Minnesota. He attended a one room school house through grade 6. He then attended Waterville public school until graduation in 1957. He married Karen Moench in 1963 and moved to Togo where he was employed with the DNR Forestry for 42 years. During this time, they moved to Effie and then built a private home in Bigfork on Bustic lake, where he lived for 42 years until his death. The highlight of his career was flying as lead plane pilot with air tankers since the early 1970s, and later flying the Beaver airplane which scooped water from surrounding lakes, to battle forest fires. His fire fighting methods ranged from "gunny sack to air attack". He loved meeting pilots from across the US and Canada. He was very creative with his hands, including tying fishing flies, trapping, building a hunting shack 4 miles into the woods, a cabin at Togo, as well as his private home on the lake. He also carved numerous wood creations including duck decoys, model airplanes, and hundreds of spearing decoys. In 1968 he learned the art of birch bark canoe building from Bill Hafeman, and continued building canoes until his death. He possessed a deep passion for spending time in the woods watching the surrounding trees mature. As an outdoorsman he also enjoyed deer hunting for 60 years. He was a member of the Grace Community Lutheran Church and the Bigfork Flying Club. He loved spending time with his grandchildren; teaching them how to catch and clean fish, snowmobile, build camp fires, drive 4 wheelers, ice fish, and enjoy the great outdoors. To them, these traits will remain with them forever. In the years to come, may Grandpa live on through the lives of his grandchildren as they use the skills and values that he instilled in them.
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