In Memory

James Verne Wyllie - Class Of 1959 VIEW PROFILE


James Verne Wyllie

Dec. 20, 1940 - Mar. 5, 2016

CASSOPOLIS - Entrepreneur and community leader James Verne Wyllie, of Cassopolis, MI, passed away on Saturday, March 5, 2016 after a yearlong battle with cancer. He was born on December 20, 1940 and was the son of James F. Wyllie and Virginia Harbaugh Wyllie. He was preceded in death by his parents, his sister, Mary Wyllie Hansen and daughter, Tricia Marie Wyllie Sunkel. He is survived by his loving wife, Sharyn Rose (Barrett) Wyllie; his son, Timothy James Wyllie; two daughters, Karen Elizabeth and her husband, Jeffery Becker of Weddington, NC, and their children, Riley Rose Becker and Aidan James Sullivan Becker; and Jamie Lynn Wyllie Willard and her husband, Michael Willard, and their children, Owen Wyllie Willard and Teagan Wyllie Willard of Barrington, RI; grandchildren, Morgan Elise Sunkel and Alec Christopher Sunkel of Phoenix, AZ; his sister, Virginia (Ginny) June, her husband, John Christopher Rice of Bellevue, WA, and their sons, Patrick and Colin; and former spouse, Judith Satterlee Wyllie Huckins. He is also survived by many in-laws, nieces and nephews.

He enjoyed a lifetime of service to his community as well as providing a significant amount of entrepreneurial spirit as the owner of various business entities. In 2013, he retired from the Board of Directors of the St. Joseph County Airport Authority as its immediate past chairman after fifteen plus years on the board.

He was an active member of the Rotary Club of South Bend for over twenty plus years until his retirement from the club in 2010.

He was a very proud member of the South Bend Central High School Class of 1959. In 1963, he graduated from Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, and began a career in public accounting with Ernst & Ernst in Chicago, IL. In the mid-sixties, he left Ernst & Ernst to join Nyloncraft, Inc. in Mishawaka, IN. He was elected President/CEO of the organization in 1978 and served in that capacity until the company was sold in the late 1980's. He was featured on the January 1985 cover of Inc. Magazine for starting the first 24 hr. daycare facility of its kind for the roughly 450 employees. Nyloncraft was started by his father, James F. Wyllie in 1956 and is still a very important part of the Mishawaka business community.

In the late sixties, he started his community involvement by being one of the founding fathers of the Big Brothers of St. Joseph County and was the organization's third president. Upon his death, he was the longest serving Big Brother in the county as he continued to mentor his Little Brother, Paul Weimer, along with Paul's wife, Glenda, and sons. Jim, Jon, and Joe.

In 1970, he received an MBA from Michigan State University and began pursuing his lifelong dream of becoming a professor at Purdue. While he never succeeded in teaching at Purdue, he taught for extended periods of time at both IUSB and Ferris State University in Michigan.

Mr. Wyllie was the co-founder of several community organizations including the South Bend Entertainment District which led the campaign to renovate the Morris Civic Auditorium, the Minority and Women Business Development Council, and Christmas in April.

In the 1980's, Mr. Wyllie served in various leadership positions including the Chairman of the Board of the South Bend/Mishawaka Chamber of Commerce. He was an enthusiastic member of the Board of Directors of The Stanley Clark School as well as a tireless fund raiser. He also was the building chairman and construction manager for the renovation of his fraternity house, Tau Kappa Epsilon in West Lafayette, IN.

In the 1990's, he joined and served on numerous committees, as well as the Board of Directors of Memorial Hospital and The Memorial Foundation. He became a leader in the convention and tourism industry by building and operating the South Bend East KOA campground, Princess Way Putt & Play, and Princess Way Banquet Center, all in the Granger area. Wyllie was involved with Dismas of Michiana as a fundraiser and long time board member. He became the Vice President/General Manager of Freedom Plastic, in 1997. He went on to be the General Manager of Advance Plastic Corporation, Schoolcraft, MI in 2000.

Wyllie remained active in business by running Y-Lee Enterprises, a consulting company serving minority and female entrepreneurs, fundraising for the United Way, and assisting with marketing with the South Bend Silver Hawks.

Visitation will be from 9-11:30 a.m. Friday, March 11, 2016 at Kaniewski Funeral Home, 3545 N. Bendix Drive, South Bend, IN, where a Funeral Service will immediately follow at 11:30 a.m. in Kaniewski Funeral Home.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Hospice of Southwest Michigan (, Shriner's Hospitals for Children (, and the American Cancer Society (


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