Nov 15,1935---Jul 20,2021

James (Jim) D. Slaven, 85, passed away on July 20, 2021, surrounded, as he lived his life, by family. Jim was a dedicated husband, and father to 6 children, grandfather to 21, and great-grandfather to 9. Family, friends, and business partners alike know that engaging with Jim meant expanding your understanding of what was possible -- and he had lots of ideas for how to get you there. 

 

An entrepreneur from the start, Jim sought his first job when he was just an 8-years old boy in Kansas City, helping an elderly neighbor on College Avenue with yardwork. Beyond the loose change he made for cutting grass and pulling weeds, Jim remembered sitting with this neighbor on her front porch after work and looking at her collection of stamps -- many of which illustrated the early history of America and other countries, as well. This sharing of stamps served as an early awakening experience for Jim; it tuned him into an awareness of people and places and experiences beyond his small neighborhood. He started noticing these differences around him, like the newspapers discarded by a local Chinese laundry that were written in a language he didn’t understand, but took interest in. He spent the rest of his life discovering and deep diving into new ideas and experiences, and dedicated his latter years to doing the same for his grandchildren. 

 

Tall, reserved, and extraordinarily focused, Jim was a consistent presence at basketball games, golf tournaments, football matches -- if someone in his family was on the team, he was there to support. His quiet nature gave his encouragements that much more impact. He had a love for the game, but he also was savvy and saw sports as a pathway to scholarship. When he was 12, he participated in a Boys Club Soap Box Derby. The derby rules emphasized the use of hand tools only and no outside help. His first year, he lost sorely. But he was keen to do better and rebuilt his car for the following year’s contest, where he won several races and got to take home a basketball as a prize. That basketball was the first in his neighborhood, and initiated the game for a number of boys in the alley of College Avenue. He saw two of these neighborhood friends grow up to play basketball on scholarship at university.

 

Jim’s own path to a college education wasn’t as direct: he put in a couple of years at junior college while also working at an engineering firm to save money to pay tuition. In 1957, he married the great love of his life, Donna (Blunk), and finished his degree in civil engineering at Kansas University, while also supporting their growing family. The time and energy Jim invested in gaining his college education instilled in him a deep respect for hard work, thoughtfully-considered decisions (he graduated during a recession, when jobs were hard to come by, but civil engineers had their pick), and the KU Jayhawks. 

 

Jim and Donna built a life for their 6 children together, following opportunity where it presented. In the mid-1960’s, they moved their young family to Ohio for a few years while Jim led the development of several housing projects in the suburbs. Jim and Donna had a strong sense of adventure (realized through many, many road trips over the years, including one cross-country trip in a 1939 Ford Coupe for the Great Race!), but they always knew they wanted to settle and raise their kids in Kansas City. 

 

The Kansas City area is where Jim really made his mark as an engineer and project director. He was a key player in highly visible and lasting projects, like Lenexa Municipal buildings & Brookridge pools in the early 1970s. Not only did he project direct the Woodside Racquet Club in Westwood, KS, he also brought his kids on board to weed whack around the courts and stuff mailers for a penny a piece, instilling a strong work ethic from the get-go.  Jim launched Corporate Woods as project director in the early 1970’s - mid 1980’s, which was significant as the first development of its kind south of I-435 and contributed to a commercial and residential boom in Overland Park. Jim was involved in the Deer Creek developments, including apartment complexes in Shawnee and Overland Park in the mid 1980’s - mid 1990’s, and in the Maple Tree housing subdivision in Lee’s Summit into the late 1990’s. 

 

Perhaps his most iconic project, however, was the Family Golf Park -- which was just that, a family-run business, through and through. Founded in Lee’s Summit in the early 1990’s, the Family Golf Park may have been small in operational scope, but its impact on both the local community and the lives of many individuals who were involved in a spectrum of ways was deeply felt. It provided a social gathering space for families & communities (miniature golf, game room, bumper boats -- there was something for everyone!), offered opportunities for instruction & advancement with golf pro Bob Coleman, and often served as first-time employment for local teens. Jim was especially proud of the Family Golf Park’s “Birthday Book Club” program, which was developed to provide funding for multiple school libraries in Eastern Jackson County. 

 

Ever invested in his children, grandchildren, and their futures, Jim also saw the opportunity in golf as a pathway to personal achievement, higher education, and better business relationships. Many in the extended Slaven family benefitted from Jim’s tireless efforts to cultivate appreciation and skill in the thinking man’s (or, in the case of his granddaughters, woman’s) game, and his encouragement and support contributed to not one, but three high school state championship wins. 

 

Clearly, Jim positioned himself well to mentor his children and grandchildren! But he didn’t stop at his own areas of experience. Jim’s home is full of books on topics specifically related to what the grandkids were into, or what he thought could be a road to success: track & running, art, business, the list goes on. He was always handing out books and advice on how to get better. For Jim, better was the only way forward. 

 

Some of the last words Jim wrote before he passed were: “I believe in America and I love my wife.” 

 

The America that Jim believed in is one where opportunity for growth & success exists for those who work hard (and make smart choices), and who then use their success to give a helping hand to those they love best. This belief was also one that was driven by his faith as a lifelong member of the Catholic Church. 

 

Love for Jim was a verb expressed in his commitment to Donna, through their beautiful marriage, and in every act of generosity and support he provided his family and friends throughout his 85 years with us. 

 

Jim was proceeded in death by his parents, Joe and Matilda. He is survived by his wife, Donna (Blunk), who he loved for 64 years, and their children: Mike (Denise) Slaven, Jeff (Janet) Slaven, Karen (Rick) Kraus, Joe (Lisa) Slaven, Dan (Linda) Slaven, and Kim (Lee) Hudson. He is survived by his grandchildren, who will miss his generous mentorship: Grant (Eva Wong) Howard, Chelsea (Sebastian) Slaven-Davis, Kristine (Nick) Dibos, Ryan (Jessica) Kraus, Dylan Slaven, Annemarie (Peter) Yorck, Haley (Tony) Berg, James Slaven, Abby (Josh) Petersen, Koby Slaven, Sarah Jo Slaven, Schyler Slaven, Mary Kate Slaven, Magdalene Slaven, Sam Slaven, Isabella Hudson, Isaac Slaven, Emma Hudson, Will Hudson, Elsie Slaven, and Luke Hudson. Jim is also survived by 9 great-grandchildren: Pan Slaven-Davis, Orion Slaven-Davis, Caleb Dibos, Sadie Dibos, Jonah Dibos, Lily Yorck, Eloise Petersen, Isla Berg, and Ren Howard. And he is survived by his sisters, Marie Clark, Linda (Bob) Holmes, and Lorna (Joe) Nelson, as well as many nieces, nephews, neighbors, Family Golf Park colleagues and friends. 

 

Funeral services for Jim will be held on Saturday, July 24, at Holy Spirit Catholic Church, 11300 W. 103rd Street, Overland Park, KS. A rosary will be said at 9:00 am, visitation held from 9:30 - 10:30 am, followed by a funeral mass at 10:30 am. Jim’s ashes will be interred at Resurrection Cemetery in Lenexa, KS. A meal will be shared at Holy Spirit after the services. 

 

The funeral service at Holy Spirit Catholic Church will be livestreamed on Youtube here and on Facebook here starting at 10:20 am on July 24. 

In lieu of flowers, Jim’s family asks that you please consider making a donation to Holy Spirit Catholic School.



Condolences

Lisa Kellis Jul 22 ,2021

Friend ,Goodyear ,Arizona

We are so very sorry for your loss. Heartfelt thoughts and prayers to you during this time of sorrow. Though we have never met Mr. Slaven, we know he raised an amazing family. May he Rest In Peace. With love, Tom and Lisa Kellis

Alan & Becky Collinsworth Jul 22 ,2021

Friend ,Goodyear ,Arizona

We are so very sorry to hear about the loss of your father, Karen. Our thoughts and prayers are with you, your mom and all of your family during this difficult time.

Rita Dupin Jul 22 ,2021

Friend ,Overland Park ,Kansas

Our prayers are with the Slaven family 🙏🏼❤️

Kris Evans Jul 22 ,2021

Our thoughts and prayers are with your family! Sincerely- Kris & John Evans

Eugene Frazier Jul 22 ,2021

Family Friend/former employee

My sincere condolences go out to the entire family. The family golf park will always and forever be a part of me. So many lasting memories, and life lessons that will stay with me forever. He will be truly missed. 🙏🏾

Judy Ricard Maude Jul 23 ,2021

Childhood neighbor ,Lees Summit ,Missouri

Dear Slaven family, please accept my condolences on Jim’s passing. Memories of our childhood days on College Ave flood back, mine mostly spent with Linda & Lorna but seeing Jim as the big brother. Marie too as the big sister. My brother too sends his condolences as we know these days we have together are precious. Good memories help ease the pain. Blessings to you all, Charlie & Judy Ricard Maude and Jim & Loydean Ricard

Kelly Fiore-Watson Jul 24 ,2021

Cousin ,Denton ,Texas

For me, the memories of trips to see family in KC grandparents were never complete until we visited Uncle Jim and Aunt Donna’s house. As a child he Intimidating me because of his height. For me, who was a young chatter box (not much has changed) Uncle Jim was a man of few words. I remember my cousins house as being full of energy, constant motion, my Aunts heartwarming laugh and my Uncle watching sports on the living room set all while waves of chaos ensued. I loved everything about the home. Shoes and laundry left on the stairs to be carried up as the ‘residents’ passed. And various sports equipment neatly stacked in the front entry way. I was fascinated by the kitchen how it was ALWAYS going. the continuous delicious smell of something baking and the sound of water running while someone doing dishes. No restaurant could keep up with this pace. I have countless warm memories of those visits. Later, as an adult, I got to experience my Uncle’s pin point comedic timing and whit so sharp you didn’t even see the dagger coming. As a Mom of 4, I relished when my sister told me my house feels like ‘Aunt Donna and Uncle Jim’s. The highest compliments. My Uncle created a phenomenal family. Set the expectations high but attainable. Be brave. Be honest. Work hard and set goals. But most of all, adore your family. I hope you find some peace in his passing knowing he left this legacy. Love, Kelly

Jim Albrecht Jul 24 ,2021

Sorry to hear of Jim’s passing.our prayers are with your family. Jim and Dick Albrecht

Jane Steele Jul 24 ,2021

Lisa... Our thoughts and prayers are with your family at this time with the loss of your father. Reading about him showed me what a great and interesting man your father was. It is obvious he instilled his zest for life into his family. We miss you here and hope you will return to us soon. Your friend Jane

Event:
Rosary
Location:
Holy Spirit Catholic Church
Address:
11300 W. 103rd St.
City:
Overland Park
State:
Kansas
Zip Code:
66214
Date:
Jul 24 ,2021
Time:
9:00 AM
Google Map:
Event:
Visitation
Location:
Holy Spirit Catholic Church
Address:
11300 W. 103rd St.
City:
Overland Park
State:
Kansas
Zip Code:
66214
Date:
Jul 24 ,2021
Time:
9:30 AM
Google Map:
Event:
Funeral Mass
Location:
Holy Spirit Catholic Church
Address:
11300 W. 103rd St.
City:
Overland Park
State:
Kansas
Zip Code:
66214
Date:
Jul 24 ,2021
Time:
10:30 AM
Google Map: