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James "Jim" Royal Natzke

Updated: Oct 4

James (Jim) Royal Natzke, 86, passed away on September 11, 2021.

Jim was the eldest of five children born to George and Myrtle (Henson) Natzke, of Merrill, Wisconsin. After graduating high school in Merrill, Jim joined the Navy and was deployed overseas on various destroyers toward the end of the Korean War.

Upon returning home from the war, Jim attended college and married his high school sweetheart, Bonnie Utecht. They eventually settled in Des Moines to raise their family and were actively involved in their community. Jim had a long career in sales, including many years at Iowa Realty which is where Bonnie also concluded her career.

Jim remained a proud veteran all his life and was involved in a number of veteran affairs, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars. His philanthropic commitments also included the Za Ga Zig Shrine, Royal Court of Jester Court 46, Acanthus Lodge No. 632, 32 degree Scottish Rite Mason and - most importantly – the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks in West Des Moines, Iowa, where he was elected Exalted Ruler and SW District Deputy. He continued to be an active member throughout his adult life.

Jim had a great love of the outdoors, especially hunting, fishing, and gardening. He hunted for many years at Natzke Camp in Wisconsin - a tradition with family and friends, and later at Natzke Farm in northern Missouri with his son, Jay, and his family. As a gardener with an envious green thumb, he won many awards for his canned vegetables at the Iowa State Fair, which he loved.


As an avid, life-long fan of the Green Bay Packers, Jim amassed a tremendous collection of Packer memorabilia, which he proudly displayed, attended games at Lambeau Field when possible and when not, he watched the games with like-minded Packer fans.

Jim was preceded in death by his parents, his wife Bonnie, and his son Jay. He is survived by his daughter, Kelly Schafer, and his four siblings: Gerald Natzke (Nancy), Carol (Greg) Zoellner, Sandra (Cookie) Hamlin, and George Natzke (Nancy). He leaves behind grandchildren Kathryn, Carolyn, Lucas, and Nikolas. He was deeply devoted to his companion of many years, Nadine Ludwig, and her family: Steve Ludwig, Valerie Williams, Richard Yardley and Rick, Roxanne, and Anna Ludwig, as well as many extended family and friends, who may as well have been family.


A celebration of Jim’s life will be held at the West Des Moines Elks Lodge on Saturday, October 9, from 1-5 p.m. All are welcome to attend and share stories. Those who wish to make a memorial contribution may do so to the West Des Moines Elks Lodge #2752, 2060 NW 94th St, Clive, IA 50325.