James Ronald Mabee passed away peacefully on Monday, June 20, 2022. He was born on March 12, 1932, in Jamestown, NY, the son of Del Mabee and Lucille (Faulkner) Mabee.
Jim graduated from Jamestown High School in 1950 and attended Utica School of Commerce before enlisting in the United States Air Force during the Korean War. After serving, he attended Bowling Green State University where he earned his degree and met the love of his life, Susan Disney, while she was working in the cafeteria. In his own words, “I went through the line and saw her, and BAM.” Jim and Susan were married for 64 years.
Jim’s retail career began in the Drapery Department at JL Hudson’s in downtown Detroit. His acumen for sales along with his friendly nature eventually led to a career as a clothing sales rep for Wrangler, covering the state with his brother Richard. Together they opened Jumpin’ Jeans, a successful chain of clothing stores based in the greater Detroit area.
Jim thoroughly enjoyed trips ‘up north’ to their cottage on Wells Lake in LeRoy where family and friends would gather to swim, sail, fish, hunt, share ghost stories around the campfire and laugh. His love of the lake life eventually sent him in search of a new home for his family. In 1974, Jim happened upon the beautiful town of Charlevoix. He called Sue from a payphone downtown and asked, “Would you like to know where we are going to live? I’ve rented space and made a down payment on a house!”.
In 1975, Jim and Sue, along with their four children, two dogs, their cat and a horse, moved to Charlevoix. Together they established The Clothing Company in downtown Charlevoix and worked the business as a family. Always the entrepreneur, when daughter Judith created a unique design for a ‘Charlevoix sweatshirt’, Jim saw the potential, and opened Charlevoix Wear. The concept was a success and the business grew; 44 Harbor Wear shops were opened in resort towns in Michigan, Florida, Wisconsin and Maine. Jim and Sue’s legacy continues with their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren working in the business they grew.
Jim was a visionary with a strong sense of community. He was instrumental in creating the Charlevoix Downtown Development Authority and served on the board for many years. He was proud to be a charter shareholder of Charlevoix State Bank and served on the boards of Charlevoix Area Hospital and Charlevoix Area Chamber of Commerce. Jim and Sue, along with their fellow merchants, initiated Charlevoix Applefest and the planting of the trees that line downtown Charlevoix today. Jim had a genuine quality. He was thoughtful, welcoming, fun and generous, a mentor to many in his lifetime. Past employees and friends have become an extended part of his family.
Jim is survived by his loving wife, Susan Mabee; four children, Susan (Wayne) Jameson of Empire, Jacqueline (Kirby) Dipert of Charlevoix, Judith (Richard) Hitz of Harbor Springs, and Jim (Ryan) Mabee of Charlevoix; seven grandchildren, Rod Robertson, Elizabeth (Petar) Angov, Richard (Lina) Robertson, Brittney Hopkins, Annie (Cole) Oosthuizen, Jill Dipert, and Keegan (Annie) Hitz; and six great-grandchildren, Keaton, Georgi, Ryder, Lilah, Emmet, Ridley, with one more on the way, along with cherished nieces and nephews.
The Mabee family would like to express their heartfelt gratitude to the staff at Boulder Park Terrace for the care and friendship extended to Jim over the last few months, as well as to Hospice of Northern Michigan for their support and guidance.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his brother, Richard Mabee; and his sister, Gwen Thompson.
A celebration of Jim’s life will take place at a later date.
In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made to NCMC Foundation Scholarship Fund at 1515 Howard Street, Petoskey MI 49770 or Little Traverse Conservancy at 3264 Powell Road, Harbor Springs MI 49740.
Arrangements are in the care of the Charlevoix Chapel of Mortensen Funeral Homes. Please sign his online guestbook at www.mortensenfuneralhomes.com