Cover photo for James Piechowski's Obituary
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1935 James 2024

James Piechowski

July 6, 1935 — January 20, 2024

Graceville, MN

James “Jim” Piechowski, age 88, of Graceville, MN, passed away on Saturday, January 20, 2024, at Essentia Health - Grace Home.

A Memorial Mass will be held on Saturday, February 3, 2024, at 11:00 a.m. at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Browns Valley, MN. Visitation will be held one hour prior to the Mass at the church on Saturday. Fr. John Paul Knopik will celebrate the Mass and inurnment will be at Calvary Catholic Cemetery. 

The service will be livestreamed and recorded and will be viewable at the bottom this page.

James Bernard Piechowski was born on July 6, 1935, in Frazee, MN, to Bernard and Celine (Sichmeller) Piechowski. He was baptized on July 14, 1935, and confirmed at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Browns Valley, MN, on June 19, 1947. Jim attended school in Browns Valley and graduated high school with the Class of 1953. 

Going on to further his education, Jim attended The Minneapolis College of Music and earned his bachelor’s degree in music in 1957. Two weeks after earning his degree, he enlisted in the United States Army and was stationed at Fort Riley, KS. Jim was a member of the 1st Infantry Division Band. After two years of active duty, he spent seven years with the 147th Army Band stationed in Mitchell, SD. 

Continuing his education, Jim earned his Master of Music Degree from the University of South Dakota. He began his teaching career in 1960 in Kimball, SD, and spent the next 35 years as a band director in South Dakota. Jim was voted Teacher of the Year more than once. In 1994, he took early retirement and sold his home that he built overlooking the Missouri River and moved back to Browns Valley to help care for his father, Bernie. Jim’s father passed away in 1999 and Jim resided in Browns Valley until 2017, when he moved into the Graceville nursing home.

From a young age, Jim always loved music. In high school, he started with the school band playing the tuba and baritone bass. He became fluent with other instruments such as the flute, clarinet, trombone, and nearly everything except oboe and saxophone. Jim also participated in the school choir. During this time, he also played in a band called, “The Commanders” out of South Dakota. This helped shape his future in music.

Jim always said there were challenging moments in teaching, getting ready for concerts, and lots of stress, but he always had excellent bands and students. He played in bands like, “The Colonels”, “Tri-State Band”, “The Commanders”, and “The Lundstoms” just to name a few. The band in Sioux City, IA, was the best he’d ever played in. Music truly was the love of his life. He still loved listening to music on his Bose in the nursing home and watching his favorite movies on his big television in his room.

Jim is survived by his sister, Patsy LeClair of Browns Valley, MN; his brother, Steve (Emily) Piechowski of Wahpeton, ND; nieces and nephews: Jason (Rachel) Piechowski, Jackson (Kimberly) Piechowski, Mike (Inez) Westbrock, Doug (Linda) Westbrock, Jerry Westbrock, Trish (Steve) Ejnik, Toni (Brad) Kellerhuis, Stacy (Kevin) Baker, Darcy Palmer, and Scott LeClair; along with many great-nieces and nephews.

Preceding him in death were his parents; sister and brother-in-law, Bernice and Bill Westbrock; and brother-in-law, Fritz LeClair.

Piechowski, James Folder.pdf
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Service Schedule

Past Services

Visitation

Saturday, February 3, 2024

10:00 - 11:00 am (Central time)

St. Anthony Catholic Church

112 2nd St S, Browns Valley, MN 56219

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Memorial Mass

Saturday, February 3, 2024

11:00am - 12:00 pm (Central time)

St. Anthony Catholic Church

112 2nd St S, Browns Valley, MN 56219

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Inurnment

Saturday, February 3, 2024

12:00 - 1:00 pm (Central time)

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