James David Stephani, 92, passed away Saturday, September 16, 2023 after a brief stay at Sheboygan Senior Community.
Jim, the only child of Roman and Leona (Ernisse) Stephani, was born September 4, 1931 and raised in Kohler, where his parents owned and operated the Kohler Pure Food Market on High Street. Jim loved sports and was a varsity letter winner in football, basketball, and track at Kohler High School, graduating in 1949.
Jim was a proud veteran of the United States Army, serving as a corporal from 1953 – 1955. Taking advantage of the GI Bill, he graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in business, before deciding to stay longer in Madison to “drink beer and shoot pool” while earning his MBA in sales and marketing.
Jim served as International Sales Manager with the Vollrath Company of Sheboygan, where he traveled to Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, France, Germany, and throughout the United States. He later worked as National Sales Manager for the Polar Ware Company of Sheboygan, before retiring from the business world at age 82. Of his many odysseys, he had a special place in his heart for Greece, where he enjoyed swimming in the waters of the Aegean Sea and sampling tsipouro and Mythos with his cherished in-laws in Athens, Nafpaktos and Chania.
In the 1960’s, he satisfied his interest in the hospitality business by opening the Ye Olde Inn with several friends on Penn Avenue in Sheboygan. This popular spot undoubtedly helped him court the love of his life, Aline Johnson, whom he married on April 24, 1965 at St. John Evangelist Church in Kohler.
As a Green Bay Packer season ticket holder, he loved attending games at Lambeau Field with his wife and son. He was also a fan of Badger athletics and enjoyed many trips back to Madison over the years. He especially reveled in attending the Badger football team’s return to the Rose Bowl 1993 with his extended family of Badger alumni.
Jim became interested in golf as a boy, teaching himself at the small park course near the Waelderhaus dam in Kohler. As an adult he allegedly earned a “scratch” handicap, until the burdens of playing as a leftie became too much to overcome and he gave up the game. To satisfy his competitive urges, he turned his focus to tennis, where he terrorized his opponents in singles and doubles at the Sports Core for many years. He also enjoyed skiing with his family in Michigan’s UP, and the “sport” of sheepshead with his beloved brothers-in-law at their Elkhart Lake cottage.
Later in life, Jim took special joy in his new role as grandfather, proudly going by the title of “Pappou” as he enjoyed his retirement.
Jim was a member of St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church, as well as a former member of Pine Hill Country Club, the Sheboygan Yacht Club, the Elks Club, and the Sports Core.
Jim was preceded in death by his son James Nicholas Stephani. He is survived by his wife Aline Stephani, son Nicholas Giannios (Corina) Stephani, both of Sheboygan, and grandchildren James Christopher and Anna Aline, as well as many cousins, nieces, nephews, colleagues and friends.
A private service will be held at Ballhorn Funeral Chapel.
The family would like to thank the staff of St. Nicholas Hospital, Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital, and Sheboygan Senior Community for their kindness and care.