He may have lived in Cottage Grove, but Jim Domeier devoted much of his time to helping his neighbors in St. Paul Park.
Domeier served as director for the annual Heritage Days and the royalty program in St. Paul Park, until retiring after the 2013 festival.
"Jim was a very generous and giving man," said Gretchen Domeier, his wife of 28 years. "It gave him joy to bring happiness to others."
Domeier 65, died at his home May 5 of complications related to a stroke he suffered last year.
His long relationship with the festival began about a decade ago, when he agreed to go onstage as a last-minute substitute for a no-show Santa Claus. The role called for him to do a strip tease, and strip he did, down to his tighty-whiteys, his daughter Christina said.
"That's kind of how it started," she said. "He volunteered because the Santa they originally had couldn't do it. It went from there. He became the co-chair and then the director."
Gretchen Domeier said her husband seldom missed a fundraising event, whether it was to help a good friend or a community organization. During the auction portion of the evening, he made it a point to outbid other people.
"He bid $100 for two homemade apple pies and promptly asked for forks and shared the pies with the table," she said.
The couple first met at the old Wells Fargo Bowling Alley in South St. Paul, his wife said.
"He wanted me to be on his softball team so he asked me out on a date," she said. "He just wanted a winning season with a good shortstop and backup pitcher."
Domeier was the owner and CEO of J & J Temperature Control Storage, Inc. and C&D enterprises, a plowing and lawn care business. He enjoyed driving his two classic cars, a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air, and 1969 Cadillac Eldorado.
It wasn't uncommon for Domeier to walk into the Park Cafe, a favorite hangout in St. Paul Park, and buy breakfast for everyone in the restaurant.
"Jim was a very giving man," said state Rep. Keith Franke, R-St. Paul Park, who is the Park Cafe owner and the city's former mayor. "He gave of his time and gave of his money and his resources."
As director of the St. Paul Park royalty program, Domeier mentored a generation of girls who served as goodwill ambassadors. The group rode their parade float in dozens of festivals in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
But they were more than just parade window dressing, said Christy LaValle, whose daughter Elizabeth was crowned princess one year.
"He taught my daughter amazing things about volunteering and community service," LaValle said. And I owe that to him.They bought presents for families at Christmastime. He did so many wonderful things for people."
News of Domeier's death prompted a Facebook photo tribute by some of the former members of the royalty program.
Arrangements are by KOK Funeral Home in Cottage Grove.
In addition to his wife and daughter, he is survived by children, Tamala, Theresa (Steve), Jim (Emily), and Jason; grandchildren, Kenen, Kayla, Eraceli, Nicholas; great grandson, Kaden; siblings, Victor, Mary (Randy), Barbie, and Alfred (Debbra); many nieces, nephews.
A funeral service was held Thursday, May 11, at Crossroads Church.