HILL CITY | James Joseph Niggemann passed to eternal rest from Fort Meade Hospice on Nov. 30, 2018.
Jim was born Oct. 30, 1932, in Milwaukee, WI, to Henry J. and Elizabeth (Fuchs) Niggemann. He grew up in Milwaukee, and graduated from Notre Dame High School in June 1951.
A patriot at heart, he enlisted in the Air Force in September 1951, completed basic training at Sampson Air Force Base in upstate New York, and technical training in administration at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa in November 1951, second in his class. He subsequently volunteered for duty in Korea, but was instead stationed to Erding Air Depot, outside of Munich, Germany, where he met his soulmate and future bride, Frieda. They were married in Frieda’s hometown of Windorf, a small Bavarian village on the beautiful Danube River on April 16, 1955, in St. James’ Catholic Church.
For the next 31 years, Jim and Frieda traveled the nation and world over many Air Force assignments, including a 1957 assignment to Green Bay, WI, where he became a lifelong Packer fan. After an outstanding career in administration and personnel management, Jim retired from active duty at Ellsworth AFB in 1982 at the rank of Chief Master Sergeant. His retirement ceremony was highlighted by a military parade complete with band and flights of airmen. His military awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal; Meritorious Service Medal with 1 oak leaf cluster (OLC); Air Force Commendation medal with 3 OLC; Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with ‘V’ device and 1 OLC; Air Force Good Conduct Medal with 6 OLC; Army of Occupation medal; National Defense Service Medal with bronze service star; RVN Gallantry Cross with Palm; and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal. Not ready for permanent retirement, Chief continued working in human resource management at Ellsworth’s Civilian Personnel Office from 1983 to 1993.
Jim was devoted to his Catholic faith, serving in various capacities throughout his life, including lector, lay Eucharistic Minister, and parish council member. Jim and Frieda were active with World Wide Marriage Encounter and Retrovaille programs for many years, assisting couples in their relationships. They spent their lives sharing their financial bounty with charitable organizations, including many Catholic and Native American charities. Jim was a proud member of the Air Force Sergeant’s Association and the Retired Enlisted Association. In later years, the "crusty old Chief" as he used to refer to himself, enjoyed living in his "cabin" in the beautiful Black Hills, fishing and hunting with his kids and grandkids, and traveling extensively with Frieda.
There was never a better husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and man to his family and friends. His wisdom, generosity, and understanding were a guiding light in our times of tribulation; he was always there for us. A man of steadfast integrity, honor, and humility, he was an example for us all and we are grateful to God for having shared him with us; we will miss his presence in our lives, but reverently cherish the many wonderful memories we have.
He was preceded in death by his parents; brother, Robert; sisters, Marian and Carol, and beloved wife, Frieda.
He is survived by his sons, Henry (Mary Hunt), James Jr., Robert (Jodi Ruff), and Stephen (Carrie Poche); daughters, Maria, Joanne (Robert) Farland, Christina, and Diane (Jeff) Wimp; nine grandchildren, Rob, Tony, and Mike Farland, Bethany, Katie, and Jessie Wimp, Mira Niggemann, and Genevieve and Elijah Neumann; and eight great-grandchildren.
Visitation begins at 4 p.m., with a 5 p.m. Christian Wake service with Deacon Fred Tully officiating on Sunday, Dec. 9, at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church.
Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 10, at the church. A lunch will follow immediately in the parish hall. Burial will be at 2 p.m. at Black Hills National Cemetery near Sturgis.
Family and friends may sign Jim’s online guestbook at Kirk Funeral Home.