James E. Wise - Memorial Service Details Added Obituary

 James E.  Wise  -  Memorial Service Details Added
James E. Wise - Memorial Service Details Added

September 26, 1927 - March 10, 2021
Born in Morrison, Illinois
Resided in Des Moines, Iowa


James Edward Wise, 93, was born on September 26, 1927 in Morrison, Illinois and passed away peacefully at home at Scottish Rite Park in Des Moines on March 10, 2021. Jim and his family moved to Des Moines in 1929. He attended Des Moines public schools, graduating from North High School in 1945.

Jim interrupted his studies at Drake University in 1946 to enter the Regular Army and served in Japan. Upon his discharge, he returned to Drake, completing two degrees. He continued his studies for his Ed. D. at Northern Colorado State University and the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Jim married the love of his life, "Betty B.," in 1949.

The Des Moines Public School District was Jim’s one full-time employer over a career that spanned 55 years. He taught at Hubbell and Douglas elementary schools and was principal at Douglas, McKee and Windsor elementary schools prior to serving in the district’s central offices where he led several different teams over the years. He retired as director of board and community relations in 1993, completing nearly 43 years of public service to Des Moines students and their families, teachers, fellow administrators and the community. He was an innovator and relationship-builder with a knack for opening doors, bridging divides, negotiating partnerships and making things happen. In the 12 years that followed, Jim served as Executive Director of the Urban Education Network, a consortium of Iowa’s largest school districts.

In retirement, Jim discovered a love for poetry, studying the craft, participating in workshops and writing poems, essays and his memoirs. He thoroughly enjoyed seeing his frequent contributions on the pages of The Des Moines Register’s Opinion section.

Jim was a life member of many education-centered organizations and a 60+ year member of Torch Club International. He was an active member of Golden K Kiwanis and an originating member of the Ray Society, Drake University’s lifelong learning program, which he served as president for three years. Jim was an advocate for peace and understanding and served on the boards of the Greater Des Moines Sister Cities Commission and the Iowa Sister States Commission. He was a co-organizer, board member and president of Friendship Force of Greater Des Moines. He served Friendship Force International, its global counterpart, as chairman for a three-year term. Jim also served on boards for Children and Families of Iowa and the Drake University School of Education International Advisory Committee. He was recognized as an outstanding alumnus of North High School and Drake’s School of Education and was honored as Volunteer of the Year by Friendship Force International.

Left to cherish Jim’s memory are his daughter, Nancy Doll, grandchildren Evan (Andrea) Doll, Mackenzie (Tim) Nichols and six great-grandchildren: Corbin, Madden, Jenner and Elliet Doll; and Emmit and Clyde Nichols. He is also survived by nephew, Ted (Gail) Wise and niece, Julie (Doug) Gibson. Jim was humble, kind and a friend to all. He and Betty enjoyed lifelong friendships from their high school days and made many more enduring friendships in their beloved Beaverdale neighborhood, during the years of service in public education and through their travels around the world. This was a life well-lived and Jim will be dearly missed by his family and friends.

Jim was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Betty, just five days before his own passing; his parents, Leslie O. and Floy M. Wise and all six of his siblings: Mildred (Johnny) Johnson; Donald (Opal) Wise; Mabel Wise; Leslie J. (Sam) Wise and his wife, Jean; Floy Jeanne Wise and Joey (Walter) Bishop as well as nieces and nephews that were very dear to him.

The family gratefully extends its deep appreciation to the staff at Scottish Rite Park and to Jim’s care teams from Home Instead and St. Croix Hospice for the compassionate care they provided.

Jim was a member of Plymouth Congregational Church and was honored to serve as a church deacon and in many other capacities.

A memorial service will be held at 10:30AM, Thursday, July 15, 2021 at Plymouth Congregational Church.

In lieu of flowers, those wishing to honor Jim may consider a memorial gift to the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines’ Golden K Kiwanis Fund or The Ray Society at Drake University.

Arrangements by Iles Dunn's Chapel.




Memorial Service
Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ
4126 Ingersoll Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50312
Thursday, July 15, 2021
10:30 AM


Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines' Golden K Kiwanis Fund
1915 Grand Avenue
Des Moines, Iowa Polk 50309
The RaySociety at Drake University
2507 University Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50311-4505
The RaySociety is a lifelong learning organization tailored for those who seek stimulating discussion, cultural understanding, and intellectual exploration.