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1963 Jimmy 2023

James Hartford

May 2, 1963 — July 24, 2023

Battle Creek


James Albert “Jimmy the Fish” Hartford passed into God’s loving embrace on Monday, July 24, 2023 at the age of 60. He was born May 2, 1963, the third son of Brian Lee and Marilyn Lenore Hartford.


Jim suffered health issues as a child which resulted in a year-long stint in a wheelchair and then on crutches. His brothers were vexed by this, but it led to the development of the deep empathy for the plight of others for which Jimmy was noted. After graduating from Harper Creek in 1981, he worked a number of jobs, notably as a bartender at Red Lobster, The Countryside Inn and the Beadle Lake Moonraker. Most recently, he was employed at the Kellogg Pilot Plant in Battle Creek.


It was as a bartender where Jimmy’s empathy and kindness really began to shine, and this, combined with his intellect and off-kilter sense of humor, charmed everyone. He was fond of parlor tricks, illusory sleight of hand and bizarre effects. He was also an enormously talented pencil and paper artist whose work amused, amazed and perplexed everyone. 


Jim also enjoyed playing horseshoes, camping, fishing and being with friends. He loved living on Beadle Lake and spending time in local forests, perhaps mushroom hunting, but always communing with God in his own way. 


He is survived by his father, Brian and stepmother, Wanda of Alamo, Texas; brothers, Mark of St. Louis, Missouri and Greg of Battle Creek, Michigan; and also by a myriad of friends heartsick at losing him so suddenly. 


Cremation has taken place, but an impromptu celebration of Jimmy’s life took place at the Moonraker on July 31, 2023. There was a tremendous outpouring of love and sharing of memories in his honor; it was amazing. There will tentatively be another memorial service at a later time, date and location to be announced later.


Rest easy in God’s loving embrace, my brother and friend; you were truly loved.


Personal messages and memories of Jim may be shared at


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