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James O. Nordlie

January 12, 1923 July 1, 2016
James O. Nordlie
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Obituary for James O. Nordlie

James O. “Jim” Nordlie, age 93, of Birmingham, Michigan, died at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Pontiac on July 1, 2016, surrounded by his family, who loved him dearly. He was born January 12, 1923 in Detroit, the son of Fred A. and Jane (nee Horstad) Nordlie.

He graduated from Cranbrook School in 1941, where he was captain of the baseball team. He attended University of Michigan and joined the Chi Psi fraternity, whose members remained his lifelong friends. His education was interrupted by his military service in World War II. Jim was a Flying Tiger, a member of the 529th Fighter Squadron, stationed in Hsian, China, and flew P-51 Mustangs in 40 missions.

When he returned home he completed his business degree at University of Michigan and joined Nordlie, Inc., the family wholesale floral business. Under his leadership, Nordlie, Inc. grew to seven stores in Michigan, Ohio and Florida. Having a passion for roses, Jim also managed two rose-growing greenhouses in Ohio and two rose farms in Guatemala. He was president of the Wholesale Florist and Florist Supplier Association from 1966-1968. His dedication to the floral industry earned him many awards and honors, including the Leland T. Kintzele award, as well as induction into the Michigan Floral Foundation Hall of Fame in 2011. He was greatly admired and loved by employees, customers, and colleagues throughout the industry.

Jim was devoted to his family. He married Alice McLean on July 23, 1949 and they had two children, James Duncan and Nancy Louise. His inclusion in the McLean Clan greatly enriched his life. Heartbroken after Alice’s death in 1983, he unexpectedly reconnected with Nancy Wells, a friend from his U of M days. Their friendship blossomed, and the two were married in 1985, further expanding his experience of loving family.

Jim was a humorous, insightful and fun-loving man. He enjoyed traveling and took his family on many interesting trips, including to Scotland and Norway. He was an avid sportsman and played both tennis and squash at the Birmingham Athletic Club until well into his 80s. He loved a good joke and told a good story, to the delight of his many cherished friends at Birmingham’s Senior Men’s Club and in the wider community.

He is survived by his beloved wife Nancy and his two loving children James of Denver and Nancy of Royal Oak, as well as his step-son Howard (Susan) Wells of Walnut Creek, CA, granddaughter Emily (Ryan) Thrall, great-granddaughter Taylor, niece Carolyn Gildea, nephew John Burns and many other cherished nieces and nephews. Jim is preceded in death by his parents, his first wife Alice, and his brother Fred Nordlie, Jr.

He was an active and devoted member of St. James Episcopal Church, which will hold a memorial service for him at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, July 30.th The Church is located at 355 W. Maple Road, Birmingham, MI 48009.

Donations in Jim’s memory may be made to St. James Church, to the Michigan Floral Foundation at 1152 Haslett Rd, P.O. Box 67, Haslett, MI 48840, or to a charity of the donor’s choice.

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