February 23, 1942 – September 22, 2021

 

James “Jim” Cletus Pehler, age 79, St. Cloud, MN, died peacefully at his home in St. Cloud on Wednesday, September 22, 2021 as a result of a chronic heart condition.

Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated on Tuesday, September 28, 2021 at 11:00 AM at Christ Church Newman Center, St. Cloud, MN. Visitation will be Monday, September 27, 2021 from 3:00 to 6:00 PM at Benson Funeral Home, St. Cloud, MN and one hour prior to the service at the church on Tuesday. A private interment will take place at a later date in Assumption Cemetery, St. Cloud, MN.

Jim was born February 23, 1942 in Grand Rapids, MN to James V. and Adelaide E. (Abts) Pehler. He graduated from Fairmont High School in 1960. Jim received his BS in Education from St. Cloud State College in 1965 and his MA in Communications Studies from St. Cloud State College in 1967. While he was a student, Jim worked for multiple St. Cloud area television and radio stations. On June 11, 1966 Jim was united in marriage to Mary Beverly Rueckert at St. Agnes Catholic Church, Roscoe, MN.

Jim joined St. Cloud State College in 1966 as an instructor in the Radio and Television area of the Department of Mass Communications. He was promoted to Assistant Professor in 1971. The following year he was elected to the Minnesota State House of Representatives and served four 2-year terms. As a member of the House Jim served on committees specializing in the areas of education, taxes, local and urban government and labor-management relations. In 1980 he was elected to the Minnesota State Senate. When Jim was re-elected to the Senate in 1983 he was appointed Chair of the Senate Education Committee. Jim had the opportunity to serve as a visiting instructor at Nankai University as part of a faculty exchange program in 1989. He retired from the Legislature in 1991 after serving for 18 years.
In 1991 Jim returned to St. Cloud State University where he assumed the position of Acquisitions Coordinator for the Learning Resource Center. Jim was promoted to Associate Professor in 1993. In May 1998 he was elected President of the local Faculty Association for St. Cloud State University and re-elected in 1999. Jim was elected as President of the Inter-Faculty Organization, the state-wide collective bargaining unit for all state university faculty within the Minnesota State System, in 2000. After serving two 2-year terms he returned in 2004 to the SCSU Learning Resource Center serving as a Reference Specialist in the federal and state government area, and teaching print and electronic data research classes until his retirement in May 2006.

Jim was a member of Christ Church Newman Center, Knights of Columbus (4th Degree), Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, Minnesota Education Council, Minnesota State Handicapped Council, and Mississippi River Parkway Commission. He also served on the following boards: Central Minnesota Sexual Assault Center, City of St. Cloud Arts Commission, Minnesota Legislative Society, Local Education Arts and Activities Committee (LEAF) Renaissance Fundraising Committee, The Night of the Stars Committee and is a past member of the Board of Directors. He also served as a Board member and Chair of the St. Cloud Public Library Board during the planning and construction stages of its new library.

Jim loved to travel, visiting every state in the United States, and visiting Canada, Europe, and Asia. He also enjoyed spending time at the lake and Wednesday coffee with “the guys”. He was a loyal fan of St. Cloud State Huskies athletics, both women’s and men’s teams, and was proud of his Polish heritage.

Survivors include his wife, M. Beverly Pehler of St. Cloud, MN; sons, James Pehler of Deltona, FL; Karl (Carmen) Pehler of Plymouth, MN; sister, Judith (Dennis) Root of Dayton, MN; brother-in-law, Robert (Ana) Rueckert of St. Cloud, MN; and nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents, brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Roger and Jeanne (Rueckert) Wojciechowski.

Memorials are preferred to the SCSU Foundation: Jim and Beverly Pehler Artist in Residence Endowment and the Student Teacher Emergency Need Fund.