Obituary: CPO James Thomas Slappy, USN (Ret.)

October 10, 1933 ~ February 24, 2023

Chief Petty Officer James Thomas Slappy, USN (Ret.)., 89, of the Town of Sevastopol, WI died early Friday morning, February 24, 2023 at Door County Medical Center in Sturgeon Bay.

He was born October 10, 1933 in Taylor, AR, the son of Arthur Dalton Slappy and Effie Lee (Caswell) Slappy. James grew up in Bradley, AR and attended Taylor High School. He met Marilynn Hamlin in typing class their junior year. They sat on opposite sides of the walkway in class, and their “appreciation” for each other grew over the next couple years. James and Marilynn were paired up to walk down the aisle for graduation with the Taylor High School class of 1951. 

The following year, James enlisted to serve his country with the United States Navy, entering into active duty on January 15, 1952. He and Marilynn were united in marriage after boot camp on April 16 at her grandparents’ (Louis and Elizabeth Hamlin’s) home in Taylor. James then shipped out on the USS Curtiss, AV 4 (Pacific Fleet) while Marilynn remained in Taylor. He returned to get Marilynn, and they eventually moved to communities throughout the United States including, San Francisco, CA, Rhode Island, and Washington state. Their last duty station was Naval Station Great Lakes in Illinois. James served with United States Navy for 22 years total, maintaining electronics equipment on the Navy ships and shore stations as an Electronics Technician and as a supervisor. He was honorably discharged with the rank of Chief Petty Officer. Through his years of Naval service, James was awarded the Good Conduct Medal several times, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, and the Vietnam Campaign Medal.

While in the Navy, he sold cars for Volkswagen in Waukegan, IL and when he retired from the Navy in 1973, he became the general sales manager of the Volkswagen dealership and remained in that position until 1981.

After James retired from the Navy, he was the Academic Dean with College Of Lake County, while supervising and teaching at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center and then the San Diego Community District College in October of 1989 for BE/E Learning Resource Centers, which he helped develop. He eventually went to Florida and started schools there. James worked for the Great Lakes Credit Union in North Chicago also. Living on a Navy paycheck, he was always working to support his family (Marilynn and three daughters at home) – usually 2-3 jobs at a time.

While they were stationed in Great Lakes, IL, they visited friends in Sturgeon Bay, WI, and immediately appreciated the community as one of the nicest and cleanest places they had ever visited. James and Marilynn eventually made the move from North Chicago, IL to Sturgeon Bay.

He was a member of Fleet Reserve Association (the national, military service member and veteran non-profit organization). James attended Hillcrest Baptist Church in North Chicago, IL In recent times he also watched the services online of Faith Baptist Church in Cabot, AR where his nephew, Richard Hamlin, is pastor. James enjoyed writing computer programs and had quite a collection of hats and fishing poles. He had a passion for photography and capturing the nature all around him. James liked spending time in his three seasons room which allowed him up-close views of the birds, squirrels, and chipmunks. He also had a passion for genealogy.

James loved his family whom he will be deeply missed by: his beloved wife, Marilynn with whom he shared nearly 71 years of marriage with; three daughters, Donna Gayle King of Sturgeon Bay, Gerri Lee Slappy of Park City, IL, and Gina Lisa Slappy of the Town of Nasewaupee; brother-in-law, Travis Eugene Hamlin, Jr. of Taylor, AR; and other relatives.

He was preceded in death by his parents; sister, Norma Franco; son-in-law, Owen King; and other relatives.

A memorial service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 15, 2023 at Huehns Funeral Home in Sturgeon Bay with Pastor David Leistra officiating. James’ service to our country will be honored with the presentation of the flag by the United States Navy.

Visitation for family and friends will be held at the funeral home on Saturday, April 15, 2023 from 10:30 a.m. until the time of service.

The memorial service will be livestreamed on the “Huehns Funeral Home, Inc. & Door County Crematory LLC” Facebook page ( Those anticipating viewing the service on Facebook are encouraged to “Like” the funeral home Facebook page and go to the page a few minutes prior to the service to receive notification of the (live) broadcast.

James was a country boy and had a love of nature, and so memorials may be given in his name to  the National Audubon Society (The National Audubon Society, ATTN: Donations, 225 Varick Street, 7th floor, New York, NY 10014;

“Our family would like to express a heartfelt thanks to Dr. Richard Hogan, nurse Stacie Jacquet and staff at Door County Medical Center for the wonderful care you have given to James over the years. You were a jewel to our family.”

Expressions of sympathy, memories, and photos of James may be shared with his family through his tribute page at