James Edward Houser, 85, Belmond, died May 4, 2020. A family vigil will be held May 16. A public visitation and Mass of Christian Burial will take place at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church when Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.
Jim was born June 20, 1934 in Des Moines, the son of Paul John and Dorothy Marie (Clark) Houser. He graduated from Theodore Roosevelt High school in 1952 and the State University of Iowa (now University of Iowa) in 1956 with a degree in business administration. In college, Jim was active in many organizations, including president of Sigma Chi Fraternity, treasurer of the Student Council, secretary-treasurer of the Interfraternity Council, member of the university tennis team, and a cadet in the Army Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC). He also met his wife, Betty Clare Henderson, while in college.
Jim proudly served his country as an officer in Korea from 1956 to 1958. He was a graduate of the Army’s Airborne and Ranger Schools. He was honorably discharged with the rank of 1st Lieutenant.
In 1959 Jim enrolled in Drake University Law School, Des Moines, a three-year program which he completed in 21⁄2 years. Jim married Betty Clare on May 2, 1959 and was admitted to the Iowa Bar in 1961.
Jim joined his father-in-law, Roy Henderson, in the practice of law. Belmond immediately appealed to Jim, and he proudly served it and the surrounding communities for nearly 60 years. He appreciated the challenges, rewards and interactions with clients from all walks of life as a general practice lawyer. Jim’s vocation brought a wide variety of civic legal duties in addition to his regular clientele. He was the City Attorney of Belmond and Goodell for many years and an Assistant and Second Assistant Wright County Attorney. He was active in local and state bar associations, holding multiple positions including President of the Wright County Attorney Association and the Wright County Bar Association. Jim was a speaker at the Iowa State Bar Association Bridge the Gap seminar. He also provided countless hours of legal representation on a pro bono basis.
Jim was passionate about community service and wore many hats in various businesses, philanthropic boards and volunteer organizations. He was most proud of his membership in the Belmond Volunteer Fire Department from 1964 to 1994. He served as chief for his last eight years on the department. Jim also chaired the E-911 Service Board.
Jim was a legal advisor to the Belmond Industrial Development Corporation (BIDCO) and a member of the Belmond Chamber of Commerce Board. He also served on the Belmond Community Chest board including a time as chairman, and he was a trustee of the Luick Memorial Trust, which has distributed funds for countless projects for the betterment of Belmond. Jim was on the Board of Directors of the Belmond Jaycees. He was honored by the Jaycees as its Outstanding Religious Leader in 1969 and Boss of the Year in 1991.
Jim was a faithful and active member of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church. He served several terms on the Parish Council, the Tithing Committee, and was a longstanding member of the Knights of Columbus - St. Francis Council #8110, and was serving as Grand Knight at the time of his death. He appreciated the friendship and camaraderie of his fellow Knights.
Jim and Betty Clare were very active, regularly taking their family to the ski slopes of Colorado, summer vacations throughout the continental United States, fishing excursions to Canada with his sons and grandsons, and entertaining family and friends while boating at Lake Cornelia. They made sure each vacation had an educational element in addition to having fun. Jim was very proud that his three sons and four grandsons all attained the rank of Eagle Scout.
Jim was preceded in death by his wife Betty Clare; son Michael; daughter-in-law Holly Sue Houser Simons;his parents; and sister Janis Steele.
He is survived by his son Michael’s children Brendan and Megan Houser; his son John (Jennifer) Houser and daughter Emma; son Thomas Houser and children Charlie and Clare; daughter Molly Ann (Bruce) Kuebler and children Barry, Michael and Clare Marie.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the Belmond Volunteer Fire Department or Knights of Columbus - St. Francis Council #8110.