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James “Jim” Leslie Stokes, 82, of Grand Rapids, MI, passed away on January 12, 2019, at home in the presence of loved ones. He was born July 24, 1936, in Hammond, IN, the son of the late Ruth and Hugh Stokes. In 1961, Jim married his law school sweetheart Aleda “Deeda” Price, who predeceased him in 1996. In 1998, he was blessed to marry again when he wed Karen Henry, who survives.
Jim graduated in 1959 from Northwestern with a degree in Industrial Engineering. Three years later he received his law degree from the University of Michigan. After working for a year in Colorado for the Labor Relations Board, Jim moved to Grand Rapids in December 1963 and joined the law firm of Miller, Johnson, Snell and Cummiskey, where he specialized in management labor relations. During his 25 years at the firm, Jim became chairman of the firm’s profit-sharing committee, formulating and then managing the firm’s profit-sharing plan, including management of plan assets.
Acknowledging that he particularly enjoyed managing assets, he left the practice of law in 1988 and embarked upon a second career as CEO of Stokes & Co. (now Calder Investment Advisors), a money management firm. With his homespun but financially savvy oversight, he grew his company into an established firm with more money under management than he ever dreamed possible.
Despite the professional demands of his two careers, and raising five children with Deeda, Jim always found time for his passion, competitive bridge, continuing to add to his 5,000+ masterpoints even while in Hospice care. Jim served on the Board of Directors for the GR Civic Theater for 25 years, including 2 years as President and 2 years as Co-Chair of a successful fundraising campaign. Jim also served for 17 years on the 3-person GR Building Authority, which was responsible for issuing $25 million of municipal bonds during his tenure. Jim served as Chairman of the Authority for 10 of his 17 years. More recently, he served on the Boards of the Police and Fire Retirement System, the GR Art Museum and the Westminster Presbyterian Church’s Memorial Trust.
Jim is survived by his wife Karen; sons Jim (Alisa) and Daniel (Deborah), daughters Katy (David Esseks), Susan Urban (Terry) and Julia; Henry stepchildren Kara, Jordan (Lara Goldstone), Megan (Keith Shugarman), and sister Nancy Soderholm. Jim is also survived by 12 grandchildren whom he adored: Will and Eloise Esseks; Jessica, James and Nicole Stokes; Mackenzie and Kaley Urban; Sarah Stokes; Jonah and Maya Henry; and Nathaniel and Theodore Shugarman, plus many nieces and nephews. Throughout his life, Jim was richly blessed with dear friends from every corner of his life (the sandbox, neighbors, the negotiating table (where he was known as “Folksy Stokesy”), fellow lawyers, bridge buddies, former clients, church, the theater, etc.) Jim was truly rich with family and friends.
A celebration of Jim’s life will be held Saturday, January 19th at 4 pm at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 47 Jefferson Ave., Grand Rapids, with Rev. Riley Jensen officiating. The service will be live streamed at www.westminstergr.org. Visitation will be Friday, January 18th from 2-4 pm and 7-9 pm at the Metcalf & Jonkhoff Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the GR Civic Theater, 30 Division Ave. N, Grand Rapids, MI 49503 or Hospice of Michigan, 989 Spaulding SE, Ada, MI 49301.
Hospice of Michigan
989 Spaulding Ave. S.E., Ada MI 49301
Grand Rapids Civic Theatre
30 Division Ave N, Grand Rapids MI 49503