James Vincent Martin, 73 of Portage, passed away suddenly on Thursday, October 26, 2023. He was born January 17, 1950, in Gary, IN to the late John A. Martin, Sr. and Norma Leitha (Dailey) Martin. Jim graduated from Portage High School in 1968, where he played for 4 years on the baseball team. He began his career at 11 years old, running the “Mouse Game” at carnivals with the family-owned business, a job which brought Jim and his customer’s great joy. While Jim continued running the “Mouse Game” during carnival seasons for years, he also worked with their family-owned business, Portage Rental, U-Haul, and alongside his brother, Tom, at Classy Chassis in Valparaiso. When he wasn’t working, Jim enjoyed spending time with his family, playing Monopoly, golfing, attending the Indy 500, watching Western movies, and cheering on the Chicago Cubs. Jim had a friendly and outgoing personality, which led him to making friends everywhere he went. He was a generous man with a big heart, who would help anyone in need. Jim will be remembered as a loving and devoted husband and father, who will be deeply missed by all who knew him.
On January 25, 1986, in New Buffalo, MI, Jim married the love of his life, Jean Kuta, who survives, along with their children: Megan Martin and Matthew (Sam Bynum) Martin, both of Portage; siblings: Kathleen (Joe) Cappello and Thomas D. (Laura A.) Martin; sisters-in-law: Judy Martin and Debra Martin; brothers-in-law: Joe (Candace) Kuta, Andrew (Theresa) Kuta, and John (Sonya) Kuta; beloved dog, Sonic; and many loving nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends. He was preceded in death by his brothers: John A. Martin Jr. and Robert A. Martin, and his great uncle, James Pope Hudgins, who was like a second father to Jim.
A visitation will be held on Saturday, November 4, 2023, from 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m., at Moeller Funeral Home, 104 Roosevelt Road, Valparaiso, with a funeral service beginning at 2:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations are requested to the family.
Our sincere sympathy from the Hayden family. He was such a nice man and we enjoyed talking with him at the Lake County Fair each year. -Paula Hayden Boyles
Jim was a great friend, I traveled with him and his brother in law Dennis in the late 70's and early eighties. He will be missed. -Thomas Metzke
My deepest condolences to James' wife, children, and family. I have very fond memories of spending time with all of you as our kids grew up, and then visiting the mouse game. You are all in my thoughts and prayers during this very difficult time. May you all find comfort and peace in God's arms. -Marsha Moore
I always looked forward to going to the Sandwich Fair so I could jackpot with Jim! I’m so glad I went to the fair this year and spent 30-45 minutes talking to Jim as he ran the game! RIP Jim, -Bill Johnson ( Fantasy Amusement Co)
My condolences to all of Jimmy's family and many Friends ! I can still call him Jimmy because. We both lived in the same neighborhoods. Brunswick in Gary, then South Haven in the Port age area. Thank you Jim. -Gwen Thiel Byers
My heart goes out to all of you especially Jean. My Jim & James along with myself all shared the same Birthday Jan. 17th. Jim and James were born on same day in 1950. We all became friends at Classy Chasis when we discovered we all had the same Birthday. I miss my Birthday Twin & now our Triplet has met my Jim at those Golden Gates. I graduated with his Sister Kathy...my Condolences to you all. James was a wonderful guy always Friendly...May he R.I.P. My Prayers are with you all. -Diana Henderson/Stanley
A familiar face and voice we grew up with year after year playing the infamous mouse game at the fair in Auburn. squeezing ourselves up to the ledge of numbers and holding our breath with anticipation of winning! Thank you for the memories and years of smiles. The family and friends of Mr. Martin are in our thoughts and prayers. -Angela Hartman
You all are in our hearts and prayers! The Auburn fair will never be the same. What an amazing man! -Kelly and Darin Solis
Our hearts are broken for your loss. You and Jim mean so very much to all of us. 50 years… that’s a long, beautiful time to have a friend. We were blessed by him. -Kathi Garton, Abby and Moose
So sorry for loss. Went to school and grew up in South Haven with Jim and family. Saw him often through the years. Facebook friends. Love and miss you Jim. -Diane Jackson
I am so sorry to hear of the passing of Mr. Martin. When I look back at my own memories at the DeKalb County Fair over the last 30 years it is hard to not think of him and spending hours and hours at The Mouse Game. One of the things I look forward to most each year is seeing him and the gang and catching up. My favorite memory was when I won the fair queen pageant in 2012, and he had saved the local newspaper for me to sign. He displayed it proudly. He was so warm and kind-hearted. Prayers to the family, he will be so greatly missed. -Madison Seifert, Miss DeKalb County 2012
I'm sorry to hear this..... I'm still in shock after my cousin told me,Jim and Jean and the mouse game at the LaPorte County fair was where I always went on my breaks and when I was done parking cars every year. I would go on my break and in my safety vest and he would say you back at it again this year lol,and we would talk in between him talking to others.he was like family in so many ways.he was a great friend both in person and on Facebook. He will definitely be missed. My condolences to Jean and the rest of the family. -April Harradon
My deepest condolences to James' family. I'm so thankful that James and the rest of the Mouse Game crew remembered me every time I came up to the Auburn Fair, talked to me, and wanted to learn more about me every time I was there. For most of my life, I only knew him as simply "The Mustache Man." It wasn't until I wrote a short little story about him at about 12 years old that I started to know him as James. He and the rest of the Mouse Game family laminated that story and hung it out the next year to see if they could find me. After that, he became a great friend who I got to see a handful of times every year during that last week of September. I made it a mission to see him and his family every year at least a few times, no matter how busy I might've been with college. When I heard the news a couple of days ago, I looked online to see how I could reach out to his family during this moment. In doing so, I found a few pictures and videos he had saved of me and my story that he had posted to his account and that made me smile so wide. Thank you to Andy for reaching out to me about this, it means a lot. Regardless, I know this story is like so many other stories people had with him. He was a friend to all, but I'm so grateful that I got to know him so well. Thank you for all of the wonderful memories you've given me my whole life, Mustache Man. -Samuel Brown
Sorry for your loss. James will be missed at the Dekalb County fair. I remember him parking his trucks at the Pugh farm in Butler Indiana and my granddad catching mice for him for the mouse game. Always loved talking with him from the fair ministry I do also. Condolences to all the family on behalf of the Pugh family. -Dale Pugh
Our sincere condolences to Jim’s family. We looked forward to seeing Jim every year at the DeKalb County Fair. He was a great guy with a big heart. We appreciated his friendship and he will be greatly missed. Thoughts and prayers to his family and friends. With love, -Jay and Sarah Seifert
I had the pleasure of playing the mouse game for many years. On October 14,2023 he came to see the final show of Something Rotten at the La Porte Little Theater when I was ushering. We had a great visit. He and his wife bought 50/50 tickets and won. Which he donated the winnings back to the theater. He loved coming to our community Theater. We thank him for his support. He will be missed. -Joy Davidson