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Post Messenger Recorder PMR New Glarus Monticello Belleville News Publishing



March 4, 2021

James R. Cockroft

James R. Cockroft, age 81, passed away on February 27, 2021, after a long battle with Vascular Dementia at the New Glarus Home. He was born in Belleville on September 17, 1938, the son of Robert and Lillian (Stiff) Cockroft.

Jim graduated from Belleville High School in 1957, where he was named MVP all four years in football. Growing up on a farm in Montrose, he showed dairy cattle at numerous local fairs and served on the Belleville Fire Department. He was drafted into the US Army in 1961, and was stationed for two years in Baumholder, Germany, where he had the honor of playing the part of General Patton in a parade in Luxembourg honoring one of his heroes. When he returned home, he met Donna Schraepfer at Turner Hall in Madison and they were married on April 24, 1965, at the Daleyville Lutheran Church.

Jim worked in the construction business all of his life, first for his dad building barns, and then with Prestressed Concrete Products until they closed in 1969. He then joined the Operating Engineers Union Local 139 and worked on several large projects in the Madison area. While operating a crane at the Beloit Waste Water Treatment Plant, he was promoted to the position of Construction Superintendent and went on to build 12 more Waste Water Treatment Plants in several states. In 1986, Jim took a job with Dane County Highway as a heavy equipment operator and went back to operating equipment until his retirement in 2002.

After his retirement, with his wife Donna by his side, he was off in his big dually pickup and fifth-wheel camper and enjoyed spending time on the road visiting different states and meeting new friends along the way. His dementia started in 2009, and gradually took his independence away but his family still seemed to be his greatest treasure, especially his grandson, Wyatt. When nothing else or anyone else got his attention, Wyatt seemed to get the most response from him.

He was the coach for a girls softball team, a 4-H leader and served on the church consistory of the First United Church of Christ in Belleville. Jim was a member of the New Glarus Masonic Lodge #310 and the Belleville American Legion Post #460. Jim was very athletic and enjoyed bowling, baseball, golf and pulled rope for the Monroe Machine and Welding tug-of-war team. He loved to hunt and fish and spent many hours on the lakes, rivers and woods of Wisconsin, Minnesota and Canada.

James is survived by Donna, his wife of 55 years; children, Richard (Evie) Cockroft of Temecula, CA, Cathleen (Timothy) Francois and Joseph (Dawn) Cockroft of Blanchardville; grandchildren, Kate, Claire, and Grace Cockroft of CA, Tyler (Molly) Francois of Johnson Creek, Michelle Francois (Austin Pauli) of New Glarus, Wyatt and Kalie Cockroft of Blanchardville; great-granddaughters, Emma O'Connor and Wrenlee Francois; and brother-in-law, Larry Kosmeder of Belleville.

He was preceded in death by his parents; brothers, Leroy (Lenore), Stanley (Lynda); sisters, Beverly (Stanley) Fritz, Geraldine (Herman) Duerst, and Marilyn Kosmeder.

A gathering of relatives and friends will be held from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., on Friday, March 5, 2021, at the Becker-Beal Funeral Home, 109 Greenway Cross, Belleville, WI. Please follow current mask and social distancing guidelines. A Masonic graveside service with military honors will be held at a later date at the Montrose Cemetery.

An online memorial with guestbook is available at


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