A beloved gem was taken from us in Rapid City, South Dakota, on August 3, 2023. James had just found out that he made the donor list for a transplant a few weeks ago. While in dialysis, he suffered a massive attack and passed away on route to surgery. Chronic kidney disease and ensuing heart issues took him from us at 52.
He leaves behind three families that loved him dearly. James was born in Fort Frances, Ont., on July 12, 1971, to his parents Helen and Jack Hedman. He was a welcome addition for his brother Kevin and the families back in NE Ontario.
He grew up as an inquisitive young boy and attended Robert Moore School. Fort Frances High was his next stop. After getting his grade 12, he decided to try grade 13 and was successful. His next calling was Confederation College, where he completed their aviation mechanics course. A downturn in the economy created a vacuum for employment in the industry. He never got the chance to practice his trade. James had a small circle of valued friends while living in the Fort. He was a kind and loving man with a terrific outlook on life. He has lived in the U.S.A. for almost 25 years.
This happened after meeting Melisa Michaud from Rapid City. It was a match that was intended for two compatible people. They married in 2001 in Rapid City. Unable to have children of there own, they found comfort with cats they adopted and the loveable dachshund Peanuts. James worked in the service industry for years. His personality earned him accolades from his customers at the busy hotels of the Black Hills area. He loved the area and traveled extensively in the heart of Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse monument, and Custer State Park. Rock and fossil hunting activities were abundantly pursued. He really enjoyed radio controlled cars, his 3D printer and family visits.
They had a change of scenery when they tried Lincoln City, Oregon, in 2016, but the Black Hills beckoned and they returned in 2018. Melisa earned a bachelor’s degree over time and is currently working on her masters. James found a great job with GE as a customer troubleshooter. He worked from home and was good enough to become a supervisor of 20 such employees. He was their resource person if they could not answer a customer’s question.
James’ health became a real issue. He developed kidney issues that led to dialysis. He traveled 120 miles, three days a week, for treatments and continued work. He leaves behind to mourn in the U.S.A. his beloved wife; his mother and father in-law Mike and Nancy; sisters-in-law Sarah and Meagan; and numerous nieces and nephews. They held an informal gathering for those who could attend and he was cremated with his remains to stay with Melisa. I was very touched that all his co-workers attended. I consider Custer, S.D., as his Happy Place. I believe he lived two lives; one in the states and the other in Fort Frances.
His Canadian family includes his step-mother Nadia; step-sisters Wendy and Jamie; Aunt and Uncle Rob Collop with their families including Robin and Andrew; another aunt, Carol, who passed away this year left him with his cousin Jessica; three special nephews Chris, Alex and Aaron held a special spot in James’ heart.
Helen’s family includes brother Ron and sisters Ruth, Debbie and Ingrid.
A private family remembrance will take place at a later date. As his dad I am proud of the person he was. No parent wants to outlive their child. I wish we could have had more time together as opposed to the phone and texting. I am forever grateful for a wonderful son.