Cover photo for James Raymond Harpenau's Obituary
James Raymond Harpenau Profile Photo
1939 James 2020

James Raymond Harpenau

November 26, 1939 — November 17, 2020

James "Jim" Raymond Harpenau, 80 years old, of Remsen, IA passed away Tuesday, November 17, 2020 surrounded by his family.

Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday December 5, 2020 at St Mary’s Catholic Church in Remsen, IA with Father Paul Eisele officiating and Deacon Rick Roder assisting.   Burial will follow in St. Mary’s Cemetery in Remsen, IA.   Graveside military honors will be conducted by VFW Post 3328 and American Legion Post 220 of Remsen.  Keeping to social distancing guidelines at that time, visitation with family present will be 5-7 p.m. on Friday, December 4, 2020.  If you are unable to attend, the funeral will be live-streamed at

Jim was born on November 26, 1939 in Le Mars Iowa to Henry and Mildred (Nilles) Harpenau.  He attended school in Remsen and graduated from Remsen St. Mary’s High School in 1958.   Following his graduation, Jim enlisted in the Army National Guard on February 22, 1958.  He served at Fort Ord Military Base, Monterey, CA until his honorable discharge in 1962.   His primary job while in the service was an Infantryman and his rank was that of a Private (E-2).  He was also awarded the Marksman Badge with Pistol clasp – the high level of accuracy during his pistol qualifications.  

While he was in high school, Jim was very active in sports.  He loved the game of baseball and was an outstanding catcher.  If he wasn’t on the baseball field, he was in the gym playing basketball.  He loved to talk about his homeruns and his points he scored in basketball.   His favorite story that he loved to share was his 3 homeruns against Granville Spalding.  After the game, he earned a gallon of ice cream for each homerun.  He was inducted into the Remsen St. Mary's Hall of Fame on August 15, 2005.

On October 21, 1961, he married his high school sweetheart Mary Lea (Pick) Harpenau at Remsen St. Mary’s Catholic Church, officiated by his uncle Rev. Leo Harpenau.  They made their home on a farm near Remsen and then later moved into town.

Jim worked as a dairy & crop farmer for many years.   He also worked at Dubuque Meat Packing plant in Le Mars, Iowa for 17 years and then Wells Blue Bunny Ice Cream for 10 years and then retired from Wells in 1996.  During his retirement, you would see him on a lawn mower around Remsen.  He volunteered his time with coaching baseball when his children were participating.  He went to several baseball games to cheer on the Hawks. 

He was a member of Remsen St. Mary’s Catholic Church.  In March 2017, Jim moved to Park Place Estates Assisted Living in Le Mars, IA.  In December 2018, Jim moved to Ankeny, IA to be closer to his kids.  He lived at Edencrest Siena Hills Assisted Living, Ankeny Iowa. 

He will be deeply missed by his 7 children and spouses, 23 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren; Dale (Cindy) Harpenau of Fort Smith, AR, and their children, Allison (and her husband Jalynn Mitchell and sons Will, AJ and daughter Leah), Elise (and her husband Ben Tusson), Ty (and his fiancé Taylor Jameson) and Grace; Kay (Jim) Buys of Ankeny, IA and their children, Andy, Jacob and Emily; Al (Donna) Harpenau of Russellville, AR and their children, Alaina (and her husband Thomas Meares and son Michael), Mallory and Ryan; Mark Harpenau of Ankeny, IA and his children, Henri, Seth and Olivia; Wayne (Julie) Harpenau of Kalamazoo, MI and their children, Nathan, Mitchell and Katherine; Diane (Mike) Weydert of Humboldt, IA and their children, Taylor (her husband Will Clough and daughter Jade), Morgan, Joe and Claire; Jill (Brad) Buckalew of Winterset, IA and their children, Haley, Braden and Bryce. 

In addition to his immediate family, Jim leaves behind his siblings Clarence and Veronica Harpenau of Remsen, Ervin Ahlers of Remsen, RoseMary (Harpenau) and Denis Schilmoeller of Granville, Richard and Pauline Harpenau of Remsen, Carol Harpenau and Linda Leonard of Omaha, NE, Ann (Harpenau) and Larry Galles of Remsen, Jim Gergeni of LeMars. His in-laws, Marvin and Donna Pick of Marcus, Pat (Pick) Harnack of Remsen, Marlene Pick of Remsen and Liz Pick of Spencer as well as several nieces and nephews. 

Jim will be welcomed into heaven with open arms by his wife, Mary Lea; his parents Henry and Mildred Harpenau; his in-laws, Andrew and Mary Pick; his sisters Cloette (Harpenau) Schroeder, JoAnn (Harpenau) Ahlers, Jeanette Harpenau in infancy; his brother Paul Harpenau,  sister-in-laws Rose Pick, Mary Lou (Vondrak Harpenau) Gergeni; brother-in-law’s Darrel Schroeder, Paul Pick, Ken Pick and Clayton Harnack; his niece Amy Galles, niece in-law Mary (Harnack) Sheehan and Jackie (Pick) Husman and nephews Rick Harpenau and Russ Galles and nephew in-law Pat Sheehan. 

Pallbearers will be Ty Harpenau, Andy Buys, Ryan Harpenau, Henri Harpenau, Seth Harpenau, Nathan Harpenau, Joe Weydert, Braden Buckalew.  

Honorary pallbearers:  Dale Harpenau, Al Harpenau, Mark Harpenau, Wayne Harpenau, Jim Buys, Mike Weydert, Brad Buckalew and Eric Harpenau.  

If you want to send a sympathy card or condolence letter, please send to:Kay Buys514 SE 5th Ave. Ankeny, IA   50021 

In lieu of flowers or other memorial gifts, please consider donations to:  Remsen St. Mary’s High School523 Madison St.Remsen, IA  51050Attn:  RSM Athletic Department - Jim and Mary Lea Harpenau memorial fund
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of James Raymond Harpenau, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Friday, December 4, 2020

5:00 - 5:00 pm (Central time)

Fisch Funeral Home & Monuments

310 Fulton St, Remsen, IA 51050

Keeping to social distancing guidelines at that time, visitation with family present will be 5-7 p.m. on Friday, December 4, 2020 at Fisch Funeral Home & Monument in Remsen. Visitation will resume 1 hour prior to the funeral on Saturday at the fu

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