James was born Nov. 16, 1931, in Le Mars, the son of Nicholas and Clara (Heissel) Wiltgen. He grew up in Le Mars and graduated from St. Joseph High School in 1950. He worked at Wiltgen Construction Company after high school until he was drafted into the U.S. Army during the Korean Conflict. He was honorably discharged in December 1954. Upon his return home, he began working for IBM and retired as a customer engineer after 42 years.
He married Margaret Kelley on May 5, 1962, in Omaha, Neb. The couple moved from Omaha to Sioux City. They have resided in Sioux City for the last 42 years.
He served in the environmental board for the city of Sioux City. He was a member of Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church and is probably best known for his support of Heelan sports.
Survivors include his wife, Margaret Wiltgen of Sioux City; eight children and spouses, James and Suzanne Wiltgen Jr. of Gettysburg, Pa., Leo and Lisa Wiltgen of Sugar Hill, Ga., Patricia and James Ganzer of New Berlin, Wis., Lisa and Greg Russell of Omaha, John Wiltgen of Sioux City, Norita and Collin Breyfogle of Sioux City, Nicole and Joe Stanek of Sioux City and Daniel Wiltgen of Chicago, Ill.; 12 grandchildren; and two brothers and their wives, Leonard and Velma Wiltgen of Le Mars, and Robert and Pat Wiltgen of Mollala, Ore.
He was preceded in death by his parents; a son, Michael; a brother, Merle; and two sisters, Lorraine Plueger and Evelyn Cameron.
Funeral Mass will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Sioux City, with the Rev. Merlin Schrad officiating. Burial will be in Calvary Cemetery in Sioux City, with graveside military rites conducted by the U.S. Army. Visitation will be 3 to 8 p.m. today (Friday), with the family present 6 to 8 p.m. and a vigil service at 7 p.m., at Meyer Brothers Colonial Chapel.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to Birthright of Siouxland.
Condolences may be sent online to www.meyerbroschapels.com.