James "Jim" Rivett
Green Bay - James Rivett, age 60, was a gentle soul and a peaceful man, who lived simply, loved joyfully, and gave generously. His outpouring to others often concealed his recent inner pain and struggle, which he fought bravely until August 23, 2018, when Jim died by suicide.
Born an east-sider on August 16, 1958, to the late Robert and Yvonne (Krueger) Rivett, Jim was a lifelong fan of both geographic sides of his beloved Green Bay community. He also loved every side of its population, welcoming diversity and supporting inclusion at every turn.
Jim attended St. Mary of the Angels Elementary School, and then graduated from Green Bay East High School in 1976. His summers were happily spent lifeguarding at Joannes Pool, but it was another lifeguard position that would bring Jim an altogether different level of happiness. In 1980, he accepted a lifeguard position at Camp U-Nah-Li-Ya. There, among the rewards of helping kids grow, grew a deep, abiding love when Jim met Pete Angilello. Together, they created a beautiful life and were officially married on June 24, 2016, after our country finally did the right thing, allowing people to marry who they love.
Jim was a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater where he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting and drawing and minored in filmmaking. He pursued post-graduate study at the New York School of Visual Arts and at the American Paper Institute of New York, which fueled his interest in graphic design. He could have stayed in New York and prospered mightily. Instead, he chose to come "home." Here, he anchored himself and lived out his belief that creativity is never defined by a ZIP code.
Jim's professional career in advertising included prominent positions within the Goltz Agency, at Arketype, Inc., and most recently as president and creative director of his own agency, KHROME. Peers throughout the industry, including the American Advertising Federation, consistently recognized Jim's creativity, vision, originality, and leadership. He found inspiration everywhere—thrift shops, graffiti-sprayed railroad cars, urban street graphics, pop culture, music, movies. In January 2005, he was selected by GD: USA magazine as one of the country's 50 "People to Watch" in all of the nation's graphic design industry.
Throughout his life and career, Jim put his unwavering energies behind two main passions. The first was his profound love for the arts. Jim approached every artistic endeavor wholeheartedly and hands on. From personally designing ArtStreet posters, to publicly rallying an entire community around the restoration of the Meyer Theatre. From gathering grassroots financial backing for songwriting and music publishing through Artist Revolution, to serving on the board of the Fine Arts Institute at East High and promoting all its vital programs.
Recognition for Jim's advancement of the arts came in many forms throughout his years. Perhaps none was more gratifying to Jim than receiving the BCA TEN Award in 2009 from Americans for the Arts, an award given annually to only the top 10 companies in the country for their support of the arts in America.
Jim's second great passion was advocacy. In 1996 after reading The Celestine Prophecy and taking a cross-country trip, Jim embarked on a yearlong sabbatical. Knowing no Spanish, he volunteered to work in Costa Rica. He learned the language, tutored orphaned children who were victims of sexual abuse, experienced his first earthquake, and helped relocate homeless families living under bridges. He often said it was a year that forever changed his life.
His impassioned advocacy list was constantly growing: provide dignity and services for the homeless at the St. John the Evangelist Homeless Shelter; advance the availability of addiction support and recovery services through the Jackie Nitchke Center; promote healing and caring for abused children at Willow Tree.
And every year in commemoration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, classrooms throughout the community received free posters celebrating Dr. King's messages of respect, diversity, peace, and love.
Jim's greatest community give-back was lacing up his dancing shoes for the American Red Cross and raising $200,000, a record, individual-effort contribution that stands to this day. For his selfless commitment, he was recognized with the Clara Barton Honor Award in 2014, the highest award the American Red Cross bestows on volunteers. That same year, Jim accepted the Ethics in Business Award through the American Foundation of Counseling, an accolade that meant a great deal to a man of great integrity.
Jim, after all was a consummate giver—a giver of time and of treasures. Yet he was also a keeper, an adopter, and a guardian of the worthwhile, with a fierce loyalty that ran far and wide and deep. He kept his family, friends, co-workers, community, and animals close. He held on to found photos of total strangers, and cared about their mysterious legacies. He embraced the homeless, inviting them into his kitchen for a meal and a haircut. Jim cherished the old and the forgotten, the wrecked and the ruined. He was never, ever giving up on his 1999 Jeep.
Traveling gave Jim special enjoyment; it was a natural extension of his natural curiosity. He had visited Belgium and France to explore his heritage, backpacked Italy with Pete to discover his, and logged countless laugh-filled journeys with his dear brother John. But he always came home, to the one loving place that moored him. Here at home, he could be a second father to his sister Julie's sons. Here at home, he could cheer on his sister Jean's achievements. Here at home, he would also enjoy the company of chosen families, Milda and Jason Davis and their sons Kai and Lukas, Schaumburg, IL, and Bridgit Yunker and her children Griffin and Sedra, Verona, WI.
The Elkhorn Flea Market has lost a loyal customer, but Jim is home.
Jim is survived by his life partner of 35 years, Pete Angilello; siblings, Julie (Leif) Rolfsen of Grayslake, IL; Jean Rivett and her partner, Michelle Mueller of Green Bay, WI; and John Rivett of Palm Springs, CA. He is also survived by in-laws, Carl and Sara Angilello, Woodstock, GA; Phyllis Byrne, Janesville, WI; Sam and Diane Angilello, Hartford, WI; Christine and Tom Scott, Darien, WI; and Richard Angilello, Brodhead, WI. He will mostly be missed by his many nieces, nephews, and great nieces and nephews who loved spending time with their "Uncle Friday." He was preceded in death by his parents, Robert and Yvonne Rivett.
Visitation will take place Thursday, August 30, at Old St. Joseph Church, 123 Grant Street, De Pere, WI, on the campus of St. Norbert College, from 2:30-6:00 p.m., followed by a Funeral Service at 6:00 p.m. with Reverend Jim Neilson O'Praem and Reverend Jay Fostner O'Praem officiating. Online condolences may be expressed at www.prokowall.com
. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to either Willow Tree Cornerstone Child Advocacy Center, a community partnership to protect, heal, and care for abused children, 503 S. Monroe Ave., Green Bay, 54301, or East High School's Fine Arts Institute, which offers students the unique opportunity to build and hone their skills in all aspects of the arts, 1415 E. Walnut St., Green Bay, 54301.
Pete would like to extend his sincere appreciation to the family members, friends, and neighbors who have embraced him during this challenging time, and especially the Metalheads at KHROME for their never-ending loyalty and support of Jim. He loved you guys…please never forget that. Jim often said during his difficult days, "All I wanted to do, was to do good work." So let's continue.
Published by Green Bay Press-Gazette from Aug. 26 to Aug. 30, 2018.