Jim Phillabaum

Longtime Bluffton City Councilman, James “Jim” Edward Phillabaum, 82, of Bluffton passed away on Friday morning, Jan. 27, 2023, at Christian Care Retirement Community after receiving a Leukemia diagnosis in early January.

Jim was born on Aug. 31, 1940, in Peru, Ind. to Herbert G. and Mildred M. (Woolpert) Phillabaum.   He graduated from Bluffton High School in 1959 and earned his associate degree in accounting from International Business College. 

On March 2, 1963, Jim and Joyce Ann Wenger were married in Vera Cruz, Ind., and enjoyed 59 years of marriage. Jim was a devoted husband and proud of the family he and Joyce raised.

Jim proudly served his county in the U.S. Navy from 1964 to 1968. A faithful and dedicated employee, Jim retired as a corporate vice president of North American Van Lines in 2002. In his retirement, Jim enjoyed selling health insurance and working with the Thoma/Rich, Lemler Funeral Home in Bluffton.

Jim loved Bluffton and serving its citizens. He was elected to the Bluffton Common Council for 11 terms, serving 44 years, many of which he was the council president. He enjoyed his service on the Bluffton Board of Works and Safety. Jim was honored to serve as mayor pro-tem, after the passing of Mayor John Flaningam.  He also held the positions of chairman of the Bluffton Downtown Merchants Association and president of the Wells County Alcohol Beverage Commission.   

He was also a faithful member of the First United Methodist Church where he served in many roles and was very active in the Kate’s Kitchen ministry.

Survivors include his wife, Joyce of Bluffton, and children; John Edward (wife Duckhyang) Phillabaum of Edmond, Okla., Jill Ann Phillabaum of Bluffton and Jada Ann (Jeff) Hoerr of Peoria, Ill.  He was a proud grandfather to Dr. Megan Ann Phillabaum and 2LT Nathan James Phillabaum.

He is preceded in death by his parents and a sister, Barbara Turner.

A service to celebrate Jim’s life will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023, at the First United Methodist Church in Bluffton with Pastor Sherrie Drake and Pastor Steve Bard officiating. Burial will follow at Six Mile Cemetery in Bluffton with Military honors by the U.S. Navy Honor Guard and the American Legion Post #111 Honor Guard.

Calling hours will be held from 3-7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 3, 2023, at the Thoma/Rich, Lemler Funeral Home in Bluffton and for one hour prior to the service on Saturday at the church.

The family encourages memorials be made in Jim’s memory to Kate’s Kitchen in lieu of flowers or gifts.

Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to the care of the Lemler Family of Thoma / Rich, Lemler Funeral Home in Bluffton. Friends can send online condolences to the Phillabaum family at www.thoamrich.com.