James Michael Merfeld

February 06, 1955 - May 12, 2020
Bellingham, WA

James Michael Merfeld

February 06, 1955 - May 12, 2020
Bellingham, WA


James Michael Merfeld, of Bellingham, Washington, passed away May 12, 2020, of ampullary cancer. He is survived by his wife, Sidney Anderson; son, Noel Merfeld, daughter, Kara Merfeld; siblings Joan Roberts, Jan Merfeld, Tom Merfeld, Pat MacDonald, Mark Merfeld and Ellen Morrow; and numerous cousins, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles and dear friends. He was preceded in death by his parents.

Jim was born February 6, 1955, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to Mike and Kathleen [McDonnell] Merfeld. Jim attended All Saints Elementary School and Regis High School, graduating in 1973. At Regis, he played football, basketball and baseball and was an all-state football player.

Jim’s mechanical engineering aptitude was apparent at a young age through his endless experimenting. In so doing, Jim learned carpentry, mechanical and electrical repair, and creative problem solving. In high school, Jim worked constantly on his Willys jeep, learning how things work. In 1977, Jim graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in mechanical engineering.

Drawn to the Pacific Northwest, Jim settled in Seattle right after college to work for Boeing as an engineer, and met the love of his life, Sidney Anderson, originally from Fargo, North Dakota. They married September 3, 1983, and had their two children, Noel and Kara. After leaving Boeing and working for a mechanical contractor, in 1990 he started his own company, United Energy Engineers, with his partner Glenn Wallace. Though successful there, Jim hoped to live in a smaller city where he could easily go riding on quiet country roads or hike in the mountains.

Jim opened the Bellingham office of UEE, focusing on HVAC controls design and installation, when the family moved here in 1994, and he later bought out Glenn’s shares in the company.  Jim was known for his fair prices, customer service and profit-sharing with employees. He had a wealth of technical information on the tip of his tongue, and yet he was friendly and engaged with everyone on the job. Over time, Jordan Beaudin and Dave Gallant joined him as owners.

Jim pursued multiple hobbies, each with zeal, mostly outside, and always on the move. He loved to travel and explored much of the world with Sidney; boated in the San Juan Islands; and helped develop the neighborhood beach. For years he took a kayak trip in September with men friends who would head north to distant shores for paddling, stories and braving the elements. He was an avid mountain biker. Well known on Galbraith Mountain, he supported the Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition financially and installed plaques along the trails that say, simply, “Life Is Good.” Jim was a fixture at the early morning YMCA basketball games and was instrumental in creating a friendly, welcoming, competitive atmosphere. Camaraderie was a driving force for him, so he created that for himself and others.

Jim was an amazing husband, always supportive of Sidney’s dancing and in her career. Sidney relied on his love, good judgment and companionship as well as his ability to fix just about anything. He also did most of the cooking—what a guy!

Jim loved family adventures. The kids grew up outdoors, on the water and in the woods. He was a devoted father, deeply involved in their day-to-day life and family traditions.

Jim was a friend to all. His rambunctious, mischievous humor and storytelling brightened everyone’s day. More than anything, he lived a conviction that each moment held meaning and an abundance of possibility.

Jim was diagnosed with cancer in early 2018. He endured treatment with determination and grace. He lived life fully to the very end.

Donations may be made in Jim’s name to the YMCA, https://operations.daxko.com/online/4036/OnlineGiving/Donation.mvc?campaign_id=7646

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6 responses to James Michael Merfeld

  1. To Sidney and the Anderson-Merfeld Family:
    Please accept my sorrow on the loss of Jim. This is a total shock to me. I didn’t even know he was sick. I regret not having stayed in closer contact with him after I switched jobs where we no longer had the opportunity to work together. It’s too easy to take for granted that good people like Jim who have meant much to me over the course of my career and shared life experiences might unexpectedly and suddenly be gone. He was so fit and at the same time gregarious and insightful; it was always a pleasure to be in his presence.
    The bulk of my time with Jim was professional, but I knew we had common outdoor interests. I’m wishing I could have had the pleasure of at least a hike or bike ride or some such shared recreational experience in the mountains. I’m feeling a sense of emptiness as I write this knowing this is will not happen now. But as I think of the knowledge he shared with me, the stories he told and pictures I’ve seen of him in his outdoor element, of his pride in his children’s accomplishments and of his partnership with you, Sydney, I’m buoyed knowing that his was a life lived to its fullest, with exuberance and joy.
    Jim will no doubt be missed. I wish you all strength during this time of challenge. Take care.
    With love,
    Scott Dorough

  2. Sydney, Thinking of you and your family. Love and hugs.
    Lisa Neulicht

  3. Bill Chadima says:

    Jim was a good friend of mine and many others in High School. Good man, smart, funny and hard worker. I’m very sorry he has passed. I remember once he stopped by my home in Cedar Rapids after he had taken a trip around the world. Very impressive. My prayers go out to his family.

  4. judy church says:

    There are no words to express the loss of Jim. I didn’t know him long and only thru working with UEE but a very kind and special person. I am so sorry for the loss and sending prayers to all family. He will be missed by many but forgotten by none.
    Judy Church
    Blythe Mechanical Inc.

  5. Jeff Purdy says:

    Jim was a high school classmate and teammate of mine at Regis High School in the early 70’s. I knew him to be fun-loving and mischievous, in all the best ways. He was a great athlete, playing football, baseball, and basketball. He was very tough and a hard worker. Always very humble. He was also very smart, but unassuming in that way.I knew he was good at fixing things, I think I remember that jeep!
    Anyway, I knew him to be a great guy. I have nothing but fun memories of Jim. My sincerest condolences to the his family, friends and co-workers.
    Jeff Purdy

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