James M. Bablitch
James M. Bablitch, age 71, passed away at his Division Street home on April 23, 2013. His wife of 43 years, Judy, was by his side. Jim was born in 1941 to longtime Stevens Point residents, Robert and Ruth Bablitch. In time, Jim would make great strides professionally as an attorney, politician, and community member during his years of practice in Rock and Portage Counties. And, as a Peace Corp volunteer in Botswana, Africa. But to those close to him, he will be remembered most for his caring and unwavering love of family and friends. Never an unkind word. Always leaning in to listen to your question and to respond with a thoughtful answer. Happy to share in the success of those around him. Ready to put two turkeys on two grills and welcome others into his home. He was also an uncle-extrordinarie to his many nieces, nephews, and various students from this country and abroad. He occupied a front row seat at countless games, performances, graduations, marriages, and more.
Jim's unique passion and understanding for two sports - the game of baseball and the world of politics, took root when he was a young boy. At 10 years of age, Jim contracted rheumatic fever and spent a full year in recovery with the radio, and sports and political events, as his constant companion. In time, he would become an avid Brewer fan, holding season tickets even during their darkest days, as well as a rousing Packer and Badger booster. Jim continued his love of the political process and, like most Bablitchs, was an ardent Democrat. Friends and relatives valued his historical perspective on politics - past and current.
Later in his life, after surviving quadruple bypass surgery, Jim discovered the joy of exercise and became a familiar and friendly face at the local YMCA where he was awarded "Member of the Month" in 2009. After his surgery, he began an extensive hobby of collecting complete team outfits - from hats to shoes. Then he became well known for sporting a different team each day as he walked his dog. Beyond the realm of the city, Jim and Judy enjoyed many adventurous excursions around the world. Regardless of where he was, Jim always had a book by his side as he was an avid reader and student of American and religious history and politics, subjects that often generated lively discussions amongst family and friends.
Often remembered is Jim's goodwill toward those less fortunate. He understood the plight of the underdog and gave wisdom and energy to causes that might bring relief to their struggles. Jim was a Marquette University student and graduate of the UW Madison Law School. He was a former President of the Stevens Point Area School Board and served as the Portage County Family Court Commissioner and the District Attorney for Rock County. Jim was also a US Assistant Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin and with his wife, Judy, served as an attorney in the Peace Corps, helping the newly independent country of Botswana develop policies for the fair distribution of land. Upon returning, Jim joined a practice that included Louis Molepske and current Portage County Circuit Court Branch 2 Judge John Finn. His primary work in private practice was as a criminal appellate lawyer, dealing with people receiving major sentences of 25 years and up. It has been said by colleagues that Jim always put the downtrodden and those who needed help first. He felt his proudest contribution on the School Board was helping start the school social work program and the Alternative High School.
A 1967 Stevens Point Journal article about Pacelli High School's 10th graduation quotes Jim who was the main speaker, as follows:
"Bablitch, now assistant district attorney of Rock County at Janesville, told the graduates their training at Pacelli was aimed at preparing them to be "whole men." They had been taught, he said, that the whole man devotes some of his life to the service of others, judges others on merit rather than background, works to the best of his ability, and is an idealist. The whole man, said Bablitch, believes the world can be "richer, better informed and more at peace."'
Jim always tried to be a "whole" man.
Jim was proceeded in death by his parents, Robert and Ruth Bablitch, and his niece, Rebecca Bablitch. He is survived by his wife, Judy, his siblings, Liza, Bob, Mike, Mary, and Heidi, his much-loved in-laws, and very dear-to-his-heart nieces and nephews.
Jim's wishes were for a Memorial Service followed by a pig roast picnic. It will be Sunday, June 16, in the All Purpose Lodge in Iverson Park. The service will begin at 1:00 p.m. followed by the picnic. Everyone who wishes to attend are most welcome. Boston Funeral Home is assisting with the service.
Any memorial contributions in honor of Jim can be sent to: JusticeWorks, 1547 Strongs Avenue, Stevens Point, WI 54481, or the Portage County Humane Society, 3200 Iber Lane, Plover, WI 54467.