Former Steamboat Springs resident James Valdeck died Nov. 28, 2008, in Englewood. He was 85.
Jim was born Irving "Oakley" Belsha on April 14, 1923, in Los Angeles. Oakley moved to Denver in 1947 and changed his name to James Valdeck.
Jim married Mary Ruth Whitby on Aug. 6, 1949. He worked for Bell Plumbing and Heating as an electrician, wiring houses in the Denver area. About 1953, he opened his own business, Windsor Shutter Company, in Littleton. Windsor Shutter manufactured deluxe wood shutters. His shutters hung in the Brown Palace Hotel for more than 40 years. In the 1960s, Jim worked for Sterling Stainless Tube, building the machines to manufacture hypodermic needle tubing. He became vice president of the company.
In 1969, Jim and his family moved to Steamboat Springs. He was on a mission to start his own company, Hampden Industries, to manufacture machinery for the production of hypodermic needles. He literally built the company by hand, constructing the building, designing machines and obtaining his first sale to Gillette Industries in Reading, England.
James Valdeck spent the next 30 years manufacturing and selling equipment across the world. He personally oversaw the successful installation of turnkey manufacturing facilities in England, Poland, Slovenia, Hungary, Brazil, Korea, Taiwan, Canada, India and Romania. In 1972, Hampden Industries won the Governor's Export Award. Jim's sales calls took him to all corners of the world, and he was known across the world as Mr. Jim.
Jim was a devoted husband and father to his wife, Ruth, and three children. He loved the outdoors and was an avid skier, hiker and whitewater rafter. He also loved boating, photography, camping and winter adventures in his Sno-Cat.
He is survived by his wife, Mary Ruth Valdeck; son Steven L. Valdeck, and his wife, Cynthia, of Littleton; daughter Dorinda Wheeler and her husband, Douglas, of Elizabeth; grandchildren Justin Wheeler, Coulton Wheeler, Christina Wheeler and Shaylyn Wheeler; brother James Belsha; sisters Oneta Lewis, Edythe Mae Flemming, Patricia Owen and Pamela Bruner. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Gwendolyn Valdeck.
A visitation was held Friday at Bullock Colonial Chapel in Englewood. Friends who wish to make a memorial contribution to the Alzheimer's Association can visit www.alz.org.
Please visit www.valdeck.com for a memorial tribute.