Jim Wiseman, of Jones

Published 3:20 pm Monday, January 3, 2022

July 10, 1937 — Dec. 30, 2021

Jim or James (‘JW’) H. Wiseman, of Jones, Michigan, founder, and owner of Swiss Valley Ski & Snowboard Area, passed away Thursday, Dec. 30, 2021, with his three daughters and his life partner at his side at the age of 84.

As a boy Jim, also known as JW, grew up in Southfield in the Detroit area where he learned to love Motown and racing muscle cars down Woodward. At a very young age, James developed an entrepreneurial spirit while helping his father and uncle develop many Detroit subdivisions. Jim started his first business selling Christmas trees in the neighborhood. After graduating from Ferris State University with a teaching degree, he became a principal in the Big Rapids School system. He used his “idle” time during the summer to own and operate a farmers’ market, and also, a go-kart track called the Prudenville 500 in the Houghton Lake Area.

In 1968, Jim and former wife Sandra Wiseman, purchased a small ski area in rural southwest Michigan with a dream and a disciplined work ethic. He devoted the rest of his life and many years of hard work to build and grow a thriving snow sports business.

While operating the ski area Jim had many other interests. He founded Wiseman Oil Company, drilling and operating oil wells in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Jim never walked away from a challenge or the opportunity to have a good time. Logging thousands of miles coast to coast on two and four wheels. He and his lifetime partner Linda rode Harleys and made everything an adventure. Ski trips and road trips with family and friends leave behind the best of memories.

Jim took interest in his community, serving as a board member on the GW Jones Bank Board for 35 years.

Known as a generous man to his entire family, he was also known for making a great impact on those who worked for and with him. He often considered his employees as family. Jim continued to be a teacher all his life, instilling his frank opinion and unrivaled work ethic with those around him, many times in a humorous manner. His antics and jokes will forever live in all of us.

For more than 5 decades, hundreds of thousands of guests have learned to ski and snowboard on the slopes of Swiss Valley, warmed-up around the fireplace and apres ski with winter friends in the chalet. JW created a very special place that has been enjoyed by generations. His legacy will live on through the thousands of skiers and snowboarders he has positively impacted over the past 53 seasons.

James was born on July 10, 1937, to George and Thelma Wiseman in Southfield, Michigan. He was preceded in death by his brother, George “Butch” Wiseman, of St. Petersburg, Florida, a sister, Susan Bogani, of West Palm Beach, Florida and a son-in-law, Kirby S. Steil, of Marcellus, Michigan. He is survived by sister, Sally Fortuna, of Birmingham, Michigan.

He leaves behind his longtime life partner, Linda Benthin, three daughters, Susie Wiseman, Jamie Wiseman Stafne & Malisa “Missy” Steil, grandchildren, Britney (Oscar), Aquari, Alaila, Esden, Kaeler, Kayla, Mason, Tyson, Keegan and great grandchildren Aubri and Oscar Junior.

The family will receive friends from 3-7 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022, at the Mater-Ralston Funeral Home, 52780 M-40 North, Marcellus, Michigan. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022, at First Baptist Church of Newberg at 13021 Born St., Jones, Michigan, with Pastor Mike Owen officiating. The family kindly requests that those attending please wear a mask. Burial will follow across the street from the church at Poe Cemetery of Newberg Township.

The First Baptist Church of Newberg will provide live streaming of the James H. Wiseman Funeral services on their FBCN YouTube Channel at https://youtube.com/channel/UCR7Xhb-QzG7Qo0Yymlc14DA

Memorials may be directed to The Friends of the Cass County Parks, PO Box 131, Cassopolis MI 49031 or Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center, (BOEC), PO Box 697, Breckenridge CO 80424, boec.org.

Online condolences may be left at materralstonfuneralhome.com.