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James Frederick Babcock

Obituary for James Frederick Babcock

February 25, 1939 - August 29, 2020
Delafield, Wisconsin | Age 81

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James Frederick Babcock
"There is nothing comparable to an enlightened mind." Those are the words that Jim Babcock lived by until his last day, August 29, 2020.
He was born James Frederick Babcock in the Town of Ottawa in Waukesha County, Wisconsin on February 25, 1939 to Earl and Mildred Buth Babcock. His early education was in western Waukesha County schools. Graduating from UW Madison with a B.A. in history in 1961, he began to pursue his lifelong interest in antiques, especially of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. In his constant desire to learn more, he developed interests in cooking, gardening, nature, family and politics. Early on, he worked part time for the late Robert Krueger of Waukesha in antiques and the late Gertrude Sherman of Waterville in her gardens. He considered both as his most important mentors. Sherman also spurred his interest in local history.
His dedicated appreciation of the beauty of design and pre-industrial craftsmanship led him to open his own antiques shop in Madison in 1974 through 1982. Afterwards, he continued his business at antique malls and shows. He was a member of the Wisconsin Antique Dealers Association and the host of numerous education videos on American Decorative Arts.
With his desire for freedom, independence, mobility and privacy, Jim never owned property but moved around SE Wisconsin and twice visited Europe. In 2005 he retired in Delafield and with a long history as a member of the Hawks Inn Historical Society, was asked to serve as curator. Jim set upon a unifying vision for Hawks Inn, an 1846 stagecoach inn, and emphasized the territorial time period of the collection, acquiring things of museum quality (many of his own) but that related to the family life of the Hawks.
An exposure to Christian Science after college formed his philosophy that life is a gift from the divine and what we do with our minds is our gift back.
Jim was a member of the Hawks Inn, Elmbrook and Wisconsin Historical Societies. His political philosophy was confirmed by his memberships in the American Civil Liberties Union, Americans for the Separation of Church and State, Common Cause, and People for the American Way.
He is survived by his sister, Carol Breckenfeld, nieces and nephew, Dawn, Brenda and Robert Leader, cousin Sally Stocks and longtime supportive friend and health care advocate, Mary Daniel.
Special thanks to the Aurora Health at Home Hospice and Aurora Zilber Family Hospice teams who cared for Jim over the past year.
Appropriate memorials would continue his support of Hawks Inn (P. O. Box 180104 - Delafield, WI 53018), Milwaukee Public Television, the Milwaukee Rescue Mission and the Southern Poverty Law Center.
A memorial tribute to Jim will be held in the late spring or early summer of 2021. The Hawks Inn membership will be notified through the newsletter and/or email.

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