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James "Jim" Andrew Holte of Elk Mound passed away on October 22, 2023, two days before his seventieth birthday, with wife Gayle by his side. His death was due to complications from Multiple System Atrophy, Type C. Jim was born to the late Gerhard and Gloria (Johnson) Holte on October 24, 1953, in Eau Claire, WI. He attended Fosbrooke School, a one-room schoolhouse in the town of Spring Brook, then Elk Mound area schools before going on to graduate with a degree in Farm Management from UW River Falls. While in school at River Falls, he met Gayle Arnold, and they married on June 5, 1976.
Jim grew up on his family's farm in the Chippewa Bottoms and after finishing college he returned to farm a dairy operation he grew to more than 100 head. Later in his career, he transitioned to grow grain and raise beef cattle when other commitments took him away from the farm more often. He graduated from Leadership Wisconsin's two-year program in 1996 (then known as Wisconsin Rural Leadership Program). He was elected President of Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation in late 2012 and served in that role until his retirement in 2019.
Jim led a life of service: service to agriculture, to his community and to his family. He was an active member of Wisconsin Farm Bureau for more than 40 years, represented District 9 on the Wisconsin Farm Bureau board for 24 years, and served as the organization's president for seven years. During that tenure, he also served on Boards of Directors for GROWMARK, Inc., Farm Bureau Life and FBL Financial Group and was a Midwest Representative to the American Farm Bureau Federation Board of Directors. He was also a past president of the Wisconsin Beef Council, a member of the Wisconsin State Livestock committee and Wisconsin Livestock Identification Consortium board. He also served as chairperson of the Wisconsin Livestock Siting Review Board and was a citizen board member of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection board. During his career, Jim was also recognized as a Wisconsin Master Agriculturist in 2005, named 2015 Wisconsin Distinguished Agriculturalist by the UW River Falls College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences, and received the Honorary Wisconsin FFA Degree in 2016. He was also awarded Wisconsin Farm Bureau's Distinguished Service to Wisconsin Agriculture award in 2022. Jim would be embarrassed that we've listed all of these, but we are so thankful for and proud of his contribution to agriculture. We believe each accomplishment warrants acknowledgement.
Jim's service also extended to his community as an 18-year member of the Elk Mound Area School District school board and as a member of many committees at the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Eau Claire, Wis. He was currently a member of Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Menomonie, WI.
Last but certainly not least, Jim served his family in more ways than we can share. He was our biggest supporter, encouraging Gayle to pursue a career change, cheering Jen on at basketball games, moving Erin to a new city in the middle of winter, captaining endless pontoon and tube rides with the grandkids, building a business with his brother as kids growing and selling cucumbers to the local pickle factory, and so much more. Jim also loved adventure, and he had many of them, including white water rafting as a family, skydiving with Erin, and parasailing with Gayle. That sense of adventure also took him on travels around the globe to Turkey, Kazakhstan, Alaska, Hawaii, Czech Republic, Austria and more.
Jim wanted to be remembered for treating people with kindness and respect. That is a lesson we aspire to carry on in his memory. We will miss him more than we can say.
Jim is survived by his wife Gayle; daughters, Jennifer (Adam) Birkholz and Erin (Josh) Holzbauer; grandchildren, Evan, Rue and Ryan Birkholz, Lucy and Drew Holzbauer; siblings, Gene Holte, Barbara (Bruce) Gilbertson and Mary (Rob) Strand; sister-in-law, Kathy Gibeaut; nephews, Peter Gilbertson, John Gilbertson, Erik Strand and Jared Strand; niece, Susan (Christopher) Rajamoney and many cousins and extended family members. He was preceded in death by both of his parents, father- and mother-in-law, Larry and Arlis Arnold and brother-in-law, Jeff Arnold.
Visitation will be held Thursday, October 26, from 5-7pm at Lenmark Gomsrud Linn Funeral Home - WEST CHAPEL, 1405 North Clairemont Ave, Eau Claire, WI. The funeral service will be held Friday, October 27 at 1:30pm at Our Savior's Lutheran Church, 910 9th Street East, Menomonie, WI., 54751, followed by a reception at Off Broadway Banquet and Conference Center (adjacent to Stout Craft Company), 1501 North Broadway Street, Menomonie, WI. A private interment will be held at a later date.
Memorials can be directed to the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Foundation, Our Savior's Lutheran Church, or a cause of your choice.