James Edward Staebler

James Edward Staebler 

June 30, 1944 – Jan. 27, 2022

James Edward “Jim” Staebler passed away on January 27, 2022 at the age of 77. 

He was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, June 30, 1944, to Dorothy and Richard Staebler, a birthday present for Richard. He enjoyed many wonderful times in his treasured home and neighborhood. Childhood trips with his family, including a trip to California with a tour led by an engaging guide, inspired a passion for nature, the outdoors and the stories and history behind the many natural and man-made sights that captivated him. 

Jim graduated from Culver Military Academy and attended DePauw University before serving in the Army as a 1st lieutenant in Vietnam. Upon his return, Jim pursued his interest in the great outdoors and graduated from Western Michigan University in the field of geology. 

Jim enjoyed a lifelong career as an interpretive park ranger for the National Park Service, working at Joshua Tree, Grand Canyon, Dinosaur National Monument, Zion National Park and Bighorn National Recreation Area. Zion was a beloved area that he extensively explored, covering countless miles on backpacking trips and guiding hikes for the public, friends and family. He had a passion for connecting people to the beauty and history of the national parks and loved leading ranger hikes and giving slide-show presentations. 

In 1983 he transferred to the Bighorn Canyon to raise a family here. He thoroughly enjoyed hikes, boat trips and, in particular, two flights over the Bighorn Canyon while also exploring many other beautiful areas throughout Wyoming and Montana with family outings and camping trips. 

Guiding school field trips and giving classroom presentations was another highlight of Jim’s career, and he particularly treasured a week-long Yellowstone expedition with Cody sixth graders and his daughter.    

Jim also enjoyed the arts, classical music and the heritage of the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, founded by his grandmother, Leta Snow. Visiting historic sites in areas like Washington, D.C., and throughout Europe further drove his appreciation of history and the many sight-seeing opportunities out there. He was grateful to have visited 49 states and had hoped to get to Alaska and to de-plane, step foot on and explore more of Hawaii.

Jim was preceded in death by his parents, siblings Richard (Jean) Staebler and Dorothy Jean (Charles) Williams and brother-in-law Stan Bushouse. 

He is survived by his sister, Judy Bushouse; three children, Kristine (Benjamin), James and Gary, and four grandchildren.

Services will be finalized at a later date. In lieu of flowers a donation to a charity of your choice may be made.