James Francis Zeal was born December 24, 1922, at Mount Vernon, to Frank and Loretta (Freeborn) Zeal. He graduated from Farmer High School in 1941, then joined the US Navy, where he was stationed on the ship, the D.E. Elden. On April 14, 1945, he married Dorothy May Miller in Mitchell. They briefly resided in Mitchell, and then moved to their farm, eleven miles southeast of Artesian. They would raise five girls and farm there for fifty-three years. Together they enjoyed fishing the James River, golfing at Plankinton with their dog, Barkley and working with the church youth group. They retired to Mitchell in 1999 where Jim would become known for his poetry, and was an expert pinochle player. He did volunteer ministry with music at church and Firesteel Healthcare Center and was one of the original organizers of the Mitchell Christian School. He had been a member of the Farwell Methodist Church until it closed, the Living Word Fellowship Church and then the Assembly of God. He watered trees for the Mitchell Park and Recreation Department for two summers. He was a member of the Artesian American Legion. Another lil’ dog called Buttercup would bring Jim much joy and companionship. You could often see them out for a walk or riding in Jim’s “big blue” pickup. Jim has now taken his final ride home to his Savior, Jesus Christ.
Grateful for having such a great Dad are his five daughters: Sonya (Alvin) Hartman of Brandon, SD, Sandra (Dick) Gerstenecker, Sheryl (Ray) Thompson, Sharon (Royce) Titze all of Mitchell, SD, and Sharlene Schenkel of Denver, CO; eleven grandchildren, ten great-grandchildren, along with many nieces, nephews and friends.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Dorothy in 2008, an infant daughter, Carol Ann and three brothers, Millard, Robert and Francis.