Jim was born Nov. 4, 1924, in Chicago, Ill., to Pietro and Lucia Bisio, Italian immigrants from Northern Italy. His father died when he was 5 and he was raised by a single mother and paternal aunts and uncles until his mother’s marriage to Luigi Patrizi when Jim was 11. Luigi loved him as his own son. He spent summers helping an uncle on his farm in southern Illinois, which instilled in him a love of nature and the outdoors.
Upon graduation from high school, Jim enrolled at Illinois Institute of Technology as an engineering student, but left in 1943 to enlist in the Army Air Forces a year after the outbreak of World War II. He flew missions over German-occupied continental Europe on a B-24 Liberator, serving as a tail gunner and the youngest of Crew 30 from the 453rd Bombardment Group. He was awarded the Air Medal for “meritorious distinction for completion of aerial missions in the face of determined opposition” and awarded the Purple Heart when injured in his last mission.
While stationed in Norwich, England, he began a correspondence with Helen Ghetia that lasted the duration of the war. The two officially met after his discharge and they married in Cleveland, Ohio, on Oct. 19, 1946. He often told his friends and family, “Most people don’t know this, but you can fall in love through letters. My Helen wrote me every day.” The marriage lasted for 65 years, until Helen’s death in 2011.
Jim and Helen moved to Durango in 1948 and raised two children in the beautiful mountain town. Jim enjoyed all that Colorado had to offer — hunting, fishing, camping, jeeping and skiing with his family. When Durango became too “busy and crowded,” they moved to Pagosa Springs in 2005, to be nearer to family.
Jim was preceded in death by his wife, Helen, in 2011 and his son-in-law, David Mitchell, in 2002. He is survived by his son, Jim, and daughter-in-law, Jolita Bisio, of Colorado Springs; his daughter Cynthia Mitchell, of Pagosa Springs; grandson Drew Mitchell, of Durango; as well as many dear and caring neighbors and friends that enriched his life. His humble heart and his special humor will be missed by all who loved him.
Cremation has occurred and Jim’s ashes will be interred with Helen’s at Greenmount Cemetery in Durango. As per his request, no services will be held.