University of Minnesota

James Lee "Jim" Cabalka Obituary

Cabalka, James Lee "Jim" December 24, 1926 - May 15, 2013 Born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Jim was adopted by John & Gladys Cabalka and was raised in Cedar Rapids. He was preceded in death by his parents and his sister, Ellen. He is survived by spouse and beloved companion of over 63 years, Betty. He is also survived by three children: Scott (St Paul), Brian (Hopkins), Elizabeth (Michael, Annandale); and by his brother, John (Cynthia and family, CA). Jim served in the US Navy in the South Pacific on the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Block Island. He enrolled in the Engineering Program at Iowa State University (Ames) after WWII. Later, he enrolled in Iowa State Teachers College where he met his wife-to-be, Betty Smith. They graduated in 1949, married, and began teaching careers. They soon returned to Ames where Jim earned a Master's Degree and Betty taught elementary students. They moved to Minnesota in 1953 where Jim taught sciences in the Minneapolis Public Schools while also enrolled in graduate studies at the University of Minnesota. The family resided at Christmas Lake near Excelsior for more than thirty years in the family home Jim & Betty built. Jim enrolled in a doctoral program in Education Administration at the University of Minnesota while serving Minnetonka Public Schools and Edina Public Schools as Assistant Principal. Jim became an on site coordinator of the developing Edina West High School and served as the first principal of Edina-West upon its opening in 1973. He was later the Edina High School Principal of the merging East and West High Schools at the West Campus in the fall of 1981. Jim retired from Edina Public Schools in 1987 and, with Betty, actively volunteered in organizations addressing basic human needs. They volunteered with Meals on Wheels and ICA (Inter-congregational Community Association), a local Food Shelf serving people with needs in seven communities. He helped his church renovate by serving on a task force, then becoming on-site Building Coordinator through the project. He hammered nails in Habitat for Humanity homes, served as a Board Member for Emma Norton Residence for Women in Transition, served as an overnight monitor for Simpson Shelter for the Homeless, heated soup for Empty Bowls program in Hopkins-Minnetonka, and also served as Homeowners Association Executive Board Member for twenty years. Jim enjoyed traveling and volunteering with devoted companion, Betty, and also relished gatherings of family and friends. He enjoyed the game of golf for 75 years, cherishing 50 years of wonderful golfing memories with dear friends. In addition, he enjoyed hiking, canoeing, fishing, travel, and an early Monday morning men's breakfast discussion group. Throughout his entire life, Jim credited his parents, Gladys & John, with their most enduring gift to him of a life-long work- ethic. Celebration of Life at Excelsior United Methodist Church on Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at 11 am. Visitation one hour before the service. In lieu of flowers, memorials preferred to Excelsior United Methodist Church. Huber Funeral & Cremation Services Excelsior Chapel 952-474-9595
This obituary was originally published in the Star Tribune.
Read Full Obituary for James Cabalka
Published online on May 16, 2013 courtesy of Star Tribune.

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