Jim Zavoral


James Roger Zavoral of Lodi, WI passed away peacefully at home surrounded by his family on April 30, 2023 at the age of 86.

Jim was born on the St Paul Pioneer Press newspaper at home on October 16, 1936 in Thief River Falls, MN to James and Josephine Zavoral. Jimmy was an active kid playing sports and running around with his dogs, Spotty and Skippy. The neighborhood kids would spend hours playing hockey in the streets and on the frozen Thief river in the winter. These kids played together for years and grew into a strong high school team, going undefeated and winning the Minnesota High School Hockey Championship in 1954. Jim was offered a scholarship to play hockey at the University of North Dakota, becoming the first person in his family to attend college. Later in life he was fond of saying, if it wasn’t for hockey, I’d be working at the turkey factory in Thief River Falls. While in Grand Forks, he met Joan Eliason while skating at the hockey rink. The two were married in 1957 after eloping across the border to South Dakota.

Jim graduated from UND in 1958 with a degree in Civil Engineering and took a job with the Federal Highway Administration, where he remained his entire career. The Feds shipped him all over the country for three years, and he and Joan had five kids born in five different states. He served in the Army ROTC in college, and active duty in Milwaukee during the Missile Crisis. In addition, he served in the Wisconsin National Guard in the late 60’s until his unit was dissolved. His kids thought he was the Captain of the Highways.

The family moved to the east side of Madison in 1963, before building and moving to their dream lake house on Lake Monona in 1974. Jim was one of the early organizers of East Side Youth Hockey Association, and was a longtime Coach, President, and Board Member.

They built a house on Lake Wisconsin and moved to Okee in 1995. The lake and the swimming pool were the center of Zavoral family gatherings for many years. Jim and Joan recently completed one more house in Lodi and moved this February. Even in declining health, Jim was active in the daily construction process and built a large garden and woodpile.

Jim loved traveling to Mexico each winter and especially enjoyed his days in Nuevo Vallarta with his bocce gang. He also loved going to Fajita Republic and reading books by the pool.

He was a skilled woodworker, and built countless chairs, shelves, kids toys and bird houses, many of which have been passed down the generations. His attention to detail was incredible.

Jim was preceded in death by his parents, brother Dale, sister Margie. He is survived by his wife of 67 years, Joan, and his five children Jo Lynn(Chris White), Julie(Phil Coan), Jim(Jean Schroeder), Jane(Tom Dunn), and Jack(Tina). His twelve grandkids and five great grandkids were truly the light of his life, and he had special relationships with each one, leaving them with lifelong memories of their Papa. Lindsay, Talia, Matt, Christina, Aaron, Andrea, James, Jacob, Jaclyn, Annie, Dylan, Hanna, and great-grandkids Kaelyn Jo, Kendal, Olivia, Violet, Elliot and players to be named later. He is also survived by three sisters, Phyllis, Joann, and Sharon.

A celebration of Jim’s life will he held Sunday, May 21 from 11a-3p at Rex’s Innkeeper in Waunakee, WI. In lieu of flowers memorials can be made to the Humane Society, Reach Out Lodi, or Agrace Hospice.

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