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Born: Apr 08, 1937

Date of Passing: Nov 15, 2020

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April 8, 1937 - November 15, 2020

After a very short battle with cancer, Jim passed away at the age of 83.
Jim will be greatly missed by his high school sweetheart and devoted wife of 60 years, Audrey; loving daughter Sue; son-in-law Kris; grandchildren, Olivia and Sam; as well as family members and close friends.
Jim or Jimmy as he was known by many as a young boy, was born and raised in Winnipeg. He grew up alongside his father at the Polo Park Race Track and Assiniboia Downs, caring for their racehorses. He accompanied his father to races across Canada and to Lexington/Louisville, Kentucky to buy horses. During these times, he would ride in the boxcar with the horses. He was so often covered in hayseeds that his friends fondly nicknamed him Seeds because of it.
Jim graduated from Kelvin High School, then attended the University of North Dakota and obtained a Bachelor's Degree in Physical Education and a Masters in Administration. Jim was President of the Manitoba Parks and Recreation Association, Canadian Parks and Recreation Association and Public Leisure Council of Canada. He was instrumental in the Panda visit in 1989 and travelled to China to bring them to Winnipeg. Jim served on the 1999 Pan Am Games Bid Committee and attended the games in Indianapolis, where he met Mohammed Ali, a person he had always admired. Jim retired in 1992 as General Manager of Parks and Recreation for the City of Winnipeg. He dedicated his many years of service to the betterment of parks and recreation for the city's residents.
In retirement, Jim and Audrey continued to spend the summers at their cottage on Favel Lake north of Kenora. The families cottage was a special place to Jim, he loved to putter around fixing things and spending time fishing, water skiing and watching the loons on the lake. Jim was a sports lover right to the end, watching his beloved Pittsburgh Steelers last game against the Cowboys winning "by the skin of their teeth." Like most kids in Canada, he grew up playing and watching hockey. He was a huge Winnipeg Jets fan from the start and was a season ticket holder for many years. But golf was Jim's passion, buying his very first set of clubs when he was just nine years old. Jim became a very accomplished golfer and was overjoyed at getting not one, but two hole in ones in his life time.
Jim has been described as one of the good guys, compassionate, dignified and witty. He will not be forgotten, will always be loved and forever missed.
In his last days, Riverview Health Centre cared for him. We wish to thank the wonderful Doctors, Nurses and Health Aides.

As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Nov 21, 2020

Condolences & Memories (9 entries)

  • So very sorry to hear about Jim's passing. He was a very respected leader and friend. He had that unique chuckle and was fun to be around. It was a pleasure to work with him over the years in the Parks and Recreation Dept, and he will be missed. My sympathy to Audrey and family. - Posted by: John Mirus (Co-worker and friend.) on: Dec 02, 2020

  • So sad to hear about Jim’s passing, Audrey. Jeanne and I have fond memories of the Wildewood Club where you and Jim had so many friends. Of course it was the curling and the golf for all those years...and Jim was pretty good at both ! Our thoughts are with you. Lance ANDERSON - Posted by: Lance and Jeanne Anderson (Friends) on: Nov 28, 2020

  • Dear Audrey, Sue and Family, Pat and I were saddened to hear of Jim's passing and wanted to offer our condolences. Jim was a well-respected member of the parks and recreation profession and his leadership had an impact on recreation and parks services across Canada. I have many memories of our work and social time together in recreation and parks, first with the City of St. James-Assiniboia and later with the City of Winnipeg. Although ten years apart, Jim and I had parallel career paths having both attended Kelvin High School, graduated in Physical Education and Recreation from the University of North Dakota and served in parks and recreation leadership positions locally, provincially and nationally. It was Jim who hired me for my first full-time job in recreation and he served as my mentor for almost a decade. I will always appreciate the influence he had on my career and I have often said that everything I know about recreation management I learned from Jim. We also have fond memories of dinners together, golf outings and visits to your beautiful lake property. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your extended family at this very difficult time. Jack and Pat Harper - Posted by: Jack and Pat Harper (Friend and Colleague) on: Nov 25, 2020

  • Very rarely do we encounter an individual we can honestly say was "a true gentleman." Our association was brief, but one I consider a privilege. Had I known Jim was keen on horses, I'm sure we could have talked for hours as my wife and I were closely associated in "horse circles" for many years, Apart from that, I met Jim several times while connected to the Parks and Recreation department, always leaving with admiration at his thoughtfulness, and the quiet manner in which he dealt with the various circumstances we had to often deal with. I am thankful, however, for having met and dealt with him even for those short intervals. Always remembered. - Posted by: Walt Makowski (friend/co-worker) on: Nov 24, 2020

  • Audrey, our thoughts are with your family at this difficult time. Tons of memories: at the city, our ill fated curling team, and most of all Pine Ridge. Jim’s fierce competitive spirit was in contrast to his gentlemanly nature. Loved the look in his eyes, followed by that smile and a laugh that couldn’t be duplicated. A true gentleman. Sincerely Neil and Gloria Payne - Posted by: Neil Payne (Friend) on: Nov 22, 2020

  • Audrey, our thoughts are with your family at this difficult time.Tons of memories:at the city,our ill fated curling team,and most of all Pine Ridge. Jim’s fierce competitive spirit was in contrast to his gentlemanly nature. Loved the look in his eyes,followed by that smile and a laugh that couldn’t be duplicated. A true gentleman. Sincerely Neil and Gloria Payne - Posted by: Neil Payne (Friend) on: Nov 22, 2020

  • I am so sorry to hear of Jim’s passing, I worked with him when he was the General Manager of P & R, he was a great boss. My late father, Bill Hanna also worked with Jim for many years. I am glad that you & Jim were able to enjoy many years at the cottage. - Posted by: Jenith (Hanna) Dack (Coworker ) on: Nov 21, 2020

  • (BIG HUGS) It is never easy to say good-bye. My thoughts are with the family while you grieve. I sure enjoyed seeing his big old wagon rolling around the Heights with them Jets plates on back in the eighties. Well played when Fergie has to come and ask WHY YOU? haha. - Posted by: Gordie Watkins (Family friend. ) on: Nov 21, 2020

  • It certainly was an honour and privilege that 'Mr. Swail' took patience in mentoring a teenager in her 1st secretarial job all those years ago at the St. James Civic Centre and then again at '2799'. His positive traits were always applied in hard work, dedication, wisdom and passion to recreation and parks. Jim made the Parks and Recreation Dept a professional atmosphere of the highest standard. He took great interest in and was passionate that our 5 public golf courses were developed and maintained at a top notch level. He was instrumental in naming and then dedicating the Terry Fox Fitness Trail in the 80s. As 'top boss' for Parks and Recreation, Jim did not suffer fools lightly. He dealt with many situations administratively, sometimes in a required tough but always fair manner. As General Manager, Jim gave the same respect and dignity to anyone he dealt with. It did not matter if it was a ladies senior golf group or professional sports executive contacting him, NO one was more important than the next to Jim. "We ultimately all work for the taxpayers". He had great integrity and could display his droll side with his characteristic dry sense of humour. It was a pleasure and honour to work for him. Jim took great delight in regaling any inquiring hockey fan in how he had been quicker than management of Team "1.0" by registering for his own personalized auto plate of "JETS" and to then be seen proudly driving around town with it. Even when John Ferguson had specifically requested, Jim still did not relinquish his plate at that time. He found great enjoyment in watching the Jets come to practice at the Civic Centre, and always had an eye for any talented new 'kid', such as a Hawerchuk or Selanne, even before they had played an actual game. Above all the accolades paid to Jim, his utmost dedication was always to loved ones, especially his 'girls', Audrey & Sue. Audrey, our hearts break for the incredible loss to you and your family. But you can rejoice in all your cherished memories of one truly great man. Marathon coffee visits and holiday get-togethers will always be cherished by us. He will always be missed, taken far too soon, but his pain is now done. We do wonder though, how long before Heaven has a Par 3 ? Rest well, dear friend, rest peacefully. - Posted by: Angie and Rick Thain (Friends / Employees) on: Nov 21, 2020

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