James Fenlason
James Fenlason

Obituary of James M. Fenlason

JAMES MORTON FENLASON – December 4, 1930 - February 7, 2022 Fenlason, James (Jim) age 91 of Edina, MN, passed away February 7, 2022. Jim was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Ann, in 2009. He is survived by his daughter, The Reverend Ann Marie Fenlason; son, Dr. Kristofer Jon Fenlason and his spouse, Catherine; and two grandsons and their families: Alec Fenlason, his spouse, Evelyn Tsen, and their son, Abraham Fenlason; and Drew Fenlason and his spouse, Peyton Sweeney. He will also be missed by his loving cousins, other family members, and the many friends he made during his long life. Jim was born December 4, 1930 and raised in Minneapolis. After graduating from West High School, he went to the University of Minnesota to study engineering. For 10 years, he managed engineering at the IBM plant in Rochester, then changed his career track to general construction management, initially working in Rochester and, later, Minneapolis. He worked as a staff engineer in the US Bank Real Estate unit and managed construction administration for several architecture and engineering firms. Jim finished his long and successful career in 1995, retiring from Ellerbe Becket. In his later years of construction and architecture-related work, Jim thoroughly enjoyed the challenges and the variety of projects he worked on, as well as the various locations he traveled to in order to oversee these projects. Jim loved music and he loved to sing, especially harmony. In the early 1950s, he joined The Minneapolis Choralaires (directed by Bob Mantzke) with his cousins who had told him that being in the group would be a “good way to meet women.” Sure enough, Jim met his future wife in the group, and he and Mary Ann were married in 1954. Soon after the wedding but before he finished his engineering degree, Jim went overseas to serve in the Army. Mary Ann joined him in Germany where they lived for 1-1/2 years and, while there, enjoyed traveling together throughout Europe. After Jim was honorably discharged, they returned to Minneapolis where he completed his engineering degree and, soon thereafter, the family took up residence in Rochester. In Rochester, Jim and Mary Ann continued their love of choral singing, joining the Robert Oudal Chorale. Jim was active in Republican politics on the local and state delegate levels and continued this and volunteer work after moving back to Minneapolis in 1971. With a passion for preserving history, Jim led efforts to establish and open a new Edina History Museum at Arneson Acres Park in Edina; both Jim and Mary Ann were past presidents of the Edina Historical Society. Jim loved cookies, jellybeans, Hershey’s kisses, and playing the violin and harmonica. Jim was always proud of his children and their accomplishments and, up until his last breath, never hesitated to voice how thankful he was that he had been blessed with such a great family. Jim’s faith in God sustained him throughout his life and brought him great comfort in his later years. He is already dearly missed. Special thanks to the staff at York Gardens Assisted Living and Gardenview for eight years of patient and compassionate care. Jim’s memorial service will be held Friday, March 11, 2022 at 2:00 pm at Normandale Lutheran Church, Edina, with visitation one hour prior. The service will be livestreamed. Access the livestream by going to www.normluth.org/livestream . That page will contain the link to the memorial service starting at 2:00 PM. In lieu of flowers, memorials can be directed to Ebenezer Foundation – York Gardens (3451 Parklawn Ave, Edina, MN. 55435), MacPhail Center for Music (Minneapolis MN https://www.macphail.org/individual-planned-giving/), or Normandale Lutheran Church (6100 Normandale Rd., Edina, MN 55436).
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