James William Ranta, age 79, of Rock, passed away Monday, February 13, 2023 at OSF St. Francis Hospital in Escanaba. Born on January 31, 1944, in Escanaba, MI to Lauri and Aili (Laitinen) Ranta. James grew up in Rock, MI. He attended and graduated from Rock High School in 1962. James enlisted in the U.S. Army and served from 1962-1964 and was honorably discharged in 1964. He was a member of the 2nd Battalion; 36th Artillery; 4th Army and received commendations for Marksman and Sharpshooter. He was united in marriage to Judith “Judy” (Cayer) in 1970 in Escanaba, MI. Post Military, he worked for Harnischfeger in Escanaba MI, and then began his career as a heavy equipment operator and worked on many projects throughout the UP and Lower Michigan. He was a 55-year member of the Operating Engineers Local 324. James also co-owned and operated an excavating business with his brother-in-law, Jim, for many years. He worked for the 410 Civil Engineering Squadron at K.I Sawyer A.F.B as an equipment operator during the winter for 30 years. He was a past member of the Rock Lions Club, Rock American Legion Post #559, Rock Area Volunteer Fire Department, and the Rock Sportsman’s Club. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, spending time in the woods, collecting antiques, and riding around on his side by side in “West Rock” visiting neighbors and friends. He loved feeding the deer and turkeys year-round at their cabin in West Rock. His greatest joy was spending time with his grandchildren.
He is survived by his wife Judith Ranta of Rock; son, Jimmers (Jade) Ranta of Rapid River; daughters, Brenda (Don) Reutter of Milan, MI, and Kimberly (Mike) Bowers of Milan, MI; grandchildren, Bryce Ranta of Menominee, MI, Aaron and Ashley Reutter of Milan, MI; brothers, Marvin (Gloria) Ranta of Lexington Park, MD, and Kenneth Ranta of Excelsior Springs, MO; sister, Ruth (Jim) Lund of Rock; and several nieces and nephews.
James was preceded in death by granddaughter, Abigail Reutter; and parents Aili and Lauri Ranta.
In keeping with James’ wishes, there will be no services at this time. A private memorial will be held later this year to celebrate his life.
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