HURON - James Edward Opalka (57) of Huron passed away peacefully at Stein Hospice, Sandusky, on Saturday, December 7 surrounded by his loving wife and his devoted sisters. Throughout his long and valiant battle with kidney cancer and heart disease, Jim never let his pain define him.
Jim was born March 28, 1962 to William P. and Priscilla (Moore) Opalka in Sewickley, Pennsylvania. Growing up, he loved hunting in the mountains and fishing on the Ohio River. His dad was his Boy Scout leader, and Jim had happy memories of their times and trips together.
Jim enjoyed playing football and grew up a die-hard Steelers fan. He loved wearing his Steeler “gear” after he moved to Ohio, always getting some reaction from people he’d meet.
After graduating Quaker Valley High School, Jim enlisted in the United States Army, earning various medals including one in marksmanship. He enjoyed his tour of duty in Germany and was subsequently discharged with honors. Jim returned to Pennsylvania and later moved to the Philadelphia area where he began his career as a corrections officer at SCI Graterford for the State of Pennsylvania. He proudly retired as a Lieutenant after 20 years.
Jim’s hobbies and interests included motorcycles and anything with an engine. During his working years, Jim loved hosting a yearly barbecue for his “crew” along with Texas Hold ‘Em tournaments. After retirement, he miraculously met his soulmate and love, Carol, and moved to Ohio where they were married in 2014. They enjoyed the outdoors, travelling and camping, going to auctions and flea markets, finding, restoring and reselling antiques and collectibles, and spending time with their two chihuahuas. The couple found great satisfaction in the self-sufficiency of planting and growing a garden, canning and cooking together.
Jim is survived by his wife, Carol (Ludemann) to whom he was truly devoted. He was preceded in death by his parents. Jim is remembered with love by his son from his first marriage, James E. Opalka, Jr, and grandson James E. Opalka, III of Beverly, PA., his sisters Rose Barlow of Leetsdale, PA and Linda Sovich Vaccaro (Michele) of Sewickley, PA, his nephews Glen Sovich (Erin), Brad Sovich (Mandy), Neil Barlow and William Barlow, and his stepsons, Colin Barcus, Matthew Barcus (Anna) and Geoffrey Barcus. He will be greatly missed by his parents-in-law, Carl and Sigrid Ludemann.
Jim wished to thank his many doctors and caregivers for their relentless and thoughtful concern. After cremation, a celebration of Jim’s life will take place in the spring or early summer 2020.
Memorial donations made in Jim’s memory would be appreciated to the Huron Rescue Squad, Stein Hospice, The Cleveland Clinic Cancer Patient Support Services, or the American Heart Association.
Online condolences may be shared at www.fosterfh.com.
Foster Funeral Home & Crematory, Huron, is assisting with arrangements.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of James E Opalka, please visit our floral store.
Huron Fire Dept. & Rescue Squad
413 Main Street, Huron OH 44839
Stein Hospice Services
1200 Sycamore Line, Sandusky OH 44870
American Heart Association
1375 E. 9th St, Cleveland OH 441144