James "Jim"'s Story
Curious, creative, compassionate, cultured, comedic — James Merle "Jim" Bentley embodied the Golden Rule. One of the many goals he strived for and achieved was to "make everyone I meet feel better for having met me."
Jim was born on Nov. 26, 1929, in Waterloo, IA, to an illiterate Missouri muleskinner and a poor Iowa farm girl, affectionately known as "Ma and Pa Bentley." He was their sixth and youngest child and was born with the dreaded smallpox disease. To Jim that was only a minor challenge. The Great Depression taught him early how to be resourceful and clever.
Throughout his 87 years, Jim achieved many magical things including a beautiful 65-year marriage to his high school sweetheart, Muriel, and five children that were his pride and joy. He also mentored and taught many others.
Jim was fortunate to be able to graduate from Iowa State University via the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC). He studied, excelled and found his professional passion in architecture and embraced the style of Frank Lloyd Wright. He served with the Army Corp of Engineers attached to the Air Force in Okinawa, designing and building emergency runways in the Korean theater.
Thereafter, his growing family returned to Iowa to continue a lifelong career in architecture. This included owning and operating a large architectural firm in Michigan. Jim and his team designed over 2,500 buildings including public schools, college campuses, churches, airports and prisons that advanced unique, environmentally-forward features. After selling his firm in Michigan, Jim and Muriel moved to Washington, DC, to help refresh and reorganize the American Institute of Architects. Upon retirement, they discovered the golf capital of Tennessee and moved to Fairfield Glade in 1994. There he designed his final project, the Pavilion at Fairfield Glade United Methodist Church.
Jim enjoyed many creative hobbies including woodworking and turning on the lathe, ballroom dancing with Muriel, sailing, banjo strumming, international travel, voracious reading, writing newspaper columns about local lore, gardening and beach vacations with his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. His insatiable curiosity about all things endeared himself to all and he inspired many lives and careers.
His influence will be felt for years to come and his presence will be dearly missed.
He is survived by loving wife, Muriel of Fairfield Glade, TN; daughter, Lynn Flick and her husband Conrad of Bettendorf, IA; son, Chris Bentley of Boulder, CO; daughters, Robin Bentley of Reston, VA, and Spring Bentley of Woodstock, GA; son, Mark Bentley and his wife Janet of Roswell, GA; grandchildren, Amber Aguirre and her husband Hartman, Andy Flick and his wife Melissa, Hannah Bentley, Jack Bentley, Aspen Bentley and Luke Bentley; and great grandchildren, Kaitlynn, Calder, Beckett, Soleri and Akasha.
Published on  February 16, 2017