James "Jim" Herchel Mortensen, 81, of Oxford passed away on April 29, 2020 at Wilson Regional Medical Center, Johnson City from complications of Covid-19.
Jim is survived by his wife, Karen Butterfield Mortensen; his two daughters and their spouses, Kirsten Mortensen and Ken Fisher, and Sigrid Mortensen and Richard Loosemore; his grandchildren, Catharine Lewis and Soren Mortensen; and his brother, Harold Mortensen. Several nieces, nephews and cousins also survive.
Jim was born on October 7, 1938 in Albany to his parents Herchel and Catharine (Snyder) Mortensen. He graduated from Germantown High School in the Catskill region and received both his bachelor's and master's in teaching at Cortland State College.
Jim married Karen on June 18, 1960. The two subsequently settled in Oxford where they both took teaching positions at Oxford Academy and Central School; Jim went on to teach high school math in Oxford for 33 years, retiring in 1995. Jim was a member of the New York State United Teachers Association and was active in the high school athletic program, coaching both basketball and volleyball, and announcing for home football games. He also wrote and directed several plays at the school.
Jim had many hobbies, interests, and talents. He was an avid gardener of both vegetables and flowers, including orchids. He was lover of tropical fish. For many years he served as membership chair of the American Cichlid Association and wrote an advice column for Freshwater and Marine Aquarium magazine. He enjoyed fly fishing and bird hunting and had a large model train collection. Jim authored several books, including the novels Minimum Competency and Railroad (Double) Crossing; and the memoirs If I Had Only Known (about keeping tropical fish), Education of a Dry Fly Fisherman, and Catharine's Diary, a collection of his mother's diary entries.
Jim was a lifelong golfer and he and Karen took great pleasure in their membership at Canasawacta Country Club in Norwich. He was a history buff, especially of New York State history, and a talented woodworker who sold his work for many years at Made in Chenango.
Jim was deeply admired and beloved by his family, friends, neighbors, and students. His passing has left an enormous hole in their hearts and in the Oxford community.
Private funeral services will be held on May 11, 2020 at the Behe Funeral Home, 21 Main St. Oxford, NY with Pastor Richard Howard officiating. Burial will be in Riverview Cemetery, Oxford. The family plans to host a celebration of life sometime in the coming months when current restrictions on gatherings have been lifted.
Memorial contributions may be made to Oxford Academy and Central Schools Scholarship Fund for The James Mortensen Scholarship at P.O. Box 192, Oxford, NY 13830. Friends and family may share memories and condolences by visiting www.behefuneralhome.com