James Elwin Corbit, “Jim” to his friends and “Grandpa” to many, was born on November 8, 1924 in Cassopolis, Michigan to Walter and Ethel (Buckholder) Corbit.
Jim graduated from Cassopolis High School and was accepted by the White Sox before being drafted into the Navy during WWII, where he served as a Marine Corpsman. The GI Bill allowed him to graduate from Michigan State University in 1951; a school he would always have in his heart. Jim told many of his grandchildren, “It wasn’t too late to go there” no matter how many years it had been since their own college graduation.
While getting his degree in Civil Engineering, he worked for the State of Michigan Department of Transportation and played football for the Spartans. After working for Gates Radio and General Electric, he settled down in Dowagiac, where he worked for Rudy, Sundstrand, and Lyons. He ended his professional career at Bremen Glass where he was an OSHA Compliance Administrator until 1996.
Jim enjoyed civic activities and liked to serve his community. He was the director for the Cass County Habitat for Humanity for 12 years, a 32nd degree Mason and a member of the Cass County Shriners who transported sick children to Shriners hospitals. He served as President of Dowagiac schools from 1973-1977 and taught Business and Management classes at Southwestern Michigan College. Jim also enjoyed bowling, golfing and was a master wood-worker, known for his talent of restoring antiques.
Jim married Jean Mildred Ireland on April 5, 1947. During their 71 years of marriage they had 5 children, Terry Corbit of Dowagiac, MI; Leslie Kenreich of Benton Harbor, MI; Michael (Judy) Corbit of Indianapolis, IN; Shelley (Mikel) Matthews of San Antonio, TX; Steven Corbit of Dowagiac, MI; 12 grandchildren, Veronica (Kenreich) Towne of Dowagiac, MI; Kevin of San Francisco, CA; Mikel Matthews, Jr. of Champaign, IL; Tami Erickson of Brandon, FL; Christopher Corbit of Fishers, IN; Brett Corbit of Noblesville, IN; Anastacia Corbit of Bargersville, IN; Justin Kenreich of St Joseph, MI; Brandon Kenreich of St Joseph, MI; Alex Corbit of Atlanta, GA; Katie Corbit of Kalamazoo, MI and Nick Corbit of East Lansing, MI and 15 great-grandchildren. Jim was passionate about his wife, Jean, and a loving patriarch of his large family.
Jim’s size betrayed his gentleness and sly sense of humor. He had a laugh that possessed his entire body and was a delight to be in the presence of. Looking back on his experiences in WWII, he figured the reason he survived was to eventually have the family he took so much joy in.
There will be an empty chair with a Michigan State Spartans blanket on it that will no longer start the wrapping paper fights on Christmas. A good and loving man has passed and the world is a better place for his having been here. We should all, at the end, be so lucky.
Arrangements entrusted to Purely Cremations – Starks Family Funeral Homes 926-9440. Those who wish to leave a condolence for Jim may do so at www.Purelycremations.orgPrint Obituary & Condolences