James B. Makowski, 83, of South Bend, Indiana passed away peacefully at 12:26 p.m. Tuesday, September 15, 2020, in the Home by the Dome, surrounded by his family. James was born on July 25, 1937 in South Bend, Indiana to Bert and Bernice (Grzeszczyk) Makowski. He lived in Shreveport, LA from 1985 until 2015, when he returned to South Bend to be near his family.
Jim was a graduate of St. Joseph High School, class of 1955 and Acme School of Die Design. Jim served in the United States Army, in the USARJ Signal Communication Agency in Japan. Jim was highly industrious, working 60 years of his life. His first job was in the family grocery store while still in school. He worked as an engineer for his entire professional career, first at Ace Tool & Die, South Bend. When it closed, he moved to South Bend Range, where he worked until 1985. During his time there, he helped lead the transition of the company to North Carolina when it was purchased. Jim moved to Shreveport in 1985 and worked for the Frymaster Corporation, Shreveport, Louisiana, where he was employed as Senior Reliability Engineer when he retired in 2011. He was very proud of the work entrusted to him in this role, which include product quality and safety assurance and product liability responsibilities. He was recognized for his skill as an expert witness in product liability litigation. If he had had the opportunity for the education, he would have been an outstanding attorney.
In November 1965, he married Eugenia Olszewski, who survives. He is also survived by two daughters, Lisa (Mark) Matejka of Osceola, Indiana and Susan Makowski of Mishawaka, Indiana; three grandchildren, Matt, Marissa and Justin Sowers; by two sisters, Lenore Koski and Toni (Randy) Mezzei both of South Bend, Indiana, and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, Bert and Bernice Makowski; and one sister, Patricia Kapaun.
Jim was a strong and quiet man who was dedicated to his family. He raised his daughters to be strong and independent women, and was always supportive and proud of the accomplishments of his children and grandchildren. It was a real gift to have time with him when he moved back to South Bend. Jim had a strong work ethic, and although he didn’t love handyman projects, he was always busy. He maintained an immaculate lawn, painted many walls, and kept all the family cars and bikes polished and waxed. Lisa and Sue fondly remember walking with him to the store for an ice cream cone with sprinkles, the many Snickers and Payday bars he brought home for them after work, going to watch Notre Dame football practice with him and meeting the players and coaches when they were little girls, and going to the barn to feed and ride ChuChi. He sat through many 4-H horse and pony events, orchestra and band concerts and high school football games in rain and snow when they were in marching band.
Jim’s love of horses was nurtured when he worked on George Lee’s farm in South Bend. Before he could drive, he rode his bike daily 15 miles from home on the West side of town to George’s horse farm on Quince Road. In exchange for helping to care for the horses, George taught him to ride and train them. Jim also loved playing cards, country music, Western and action movies (Clint Eastwood was a favorite), and driving fast cars. He was a devoted fan of Notre Dame football and basketball and could stump anyone with his vast recall of Notre Dame football stats. He loved to visit the horse race tracks and casinos in Bossier City, Opelousas and New Orleans. He called Louisiana “God’s country” and loved living there. Jim was very active in Alcoholics Anonymous and served as a sponsor for many years. On the day that he passed, he had been sober for 31 years, 3 months and 8 days.
Jim’s family would like to express gratitude to the loving, compassionate people at Home by the Dome and Center for Hospice Care who provided outstanding, dignified care and helped them accompany him through his final journey.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday, September 22, 2020, in St. Adalbert Church. Burial will follow in St. Joseph Cemetery. A visitation will be held from 4:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. Monday in the funeral home, where a rosary will be prayed at 7:00 p.m. Memorial Contributions may be directed to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research or to St. Joseph High School. To send online condolences, please visit Kaniewski.com
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of James B. Makowski, please visit our floral store.