James Robert Maki of Ely, 70, died on July 6, at his home on Burntside Lake. He was where he loved to be, doing what he loved, fishing.
Born on August 24, 1948 in Ely Minnesota, Jim was the son of Luella (Erickson) Maki and Robert William (Ropey) Maki. After graduating from Ely High School, Jim joined the Army serving from September 1967 until December 1970. He was in the 173rd Airborne Division, the 41st Battalion, working as an MP. He sustained injuries in Vietnam.
Returning to Ely after his military commitment, he married Rebecca (Becky) Richards on February 5, 1972. He and Becky raised their two children, Krista and Steven, at their home on Burntside Lake. Jim worked at US Steel’s Minntac Plant in Mountain Iron from 1971 to 1975 and as a millwright for Inland Steel at the Minorca Plant in Virginia from 1976 until 2003, when he retired. Jim was a member of Steel Workers Local #1938 and Local #6115. Jim also owned and operated the Great Outdoors Bait and Tackle Shop on Sheridan Street from 1985 until 2019.
An avid outdoorsman, Jim enjoyed hunting and fishing. In his younger years, he trapped his own bait, and went ricing with his wife and in-laws. He loved the Ely area and was the unofficial ‘mayor’ of Burntside Lake, being the voice of authority regarding fishing and ice conditions.
Jim, who was affectionately known as ‘Jaws’, had the gift of gab and was always up for conversation. He had a story about anybody you could name, fishing advice to share, and was willing to express his political opinion whether you asked or not. He could be cleverly funny, entertaining his audiences with humorous tales from his extensive knowledge of Ely’s colorful past.
Above all, Jim was known for his heartfelt concern and interest in people. He devoted many hours coaching youth hockey and was always available to provide support for his friends, family, and even people he just met.
Jim was preceded in death by his parents and his wife Becky. He is survived by his daughter Krista (Shawn) Zurn and son Steven (Katie) Maki and grandchildren Cas Grant, Ayden Maki and Kylee Maki. He is also survived by his loving companion of 20 years, Celia Domich.
A gathering to remember Jim will be held on July 27 at the Longbranch in Winton from noon to 3 p.m. Family arrangements have been entrusted to Kerntz Funeral of Ely.