Obituary | James LeRoy Wahle

James LeRoy Wahle


James LeRoy (“Jim”) Wahle died peacefully at the age of 84, in the presence of family at Lake Forest, IL (Northwestern) Hospital on Saturday, April 10, 2021 after a long illness.
Born November 16, 1936 in Indianapolis, IN to MarySue (Campbell) Wahle and Leroy Louis Wahle. Jim was the second of three children and the couple’s only son. Jim graduated from Shortridge High in Indianapolis in 1954, from Denison University with a degree in mathematics in 1958 and from Purdue University in 1960 with a degree in mechanical engineering.
In his professional career, Mr. Wahle held a number of management positions at manufacturing companies including Schwitzwer in Indianapolis, IN, Hayes Albion in Jackson, MI and Rajay Turbochargers in Long Beach, CA, where he served as President. Jim also served as President for portfolio companies of the Hillman Corporation, as well as other management and consulting positions later in his career.
Jim is survived by his wife, Martha Burke Wahle of Lake Forest, IL, and step children Kathy Allen (husband Doug and children Carter and Trevor) of Lake Forest, IL, Jonathan Burke (wife Miriam and children Gustavo and Ava) of Mill Valley, CA and Alison Roberts (husband Smith) of San Gabriel, CA. Mr. Wahle also is survived by his children from his first marriage, Betsy Smith (husband Rory and children Amanda, Winston and Everett) of Vero Beach, FL, Charles Wahle (children Charlotte, Theodore, Dean and Austin) of Duxbury, MA and Curtis Wahle (son Parker) of Nashville, TN. Jim is also survived by his sister Susan Carroll (husband Thomas) of Arlington Heights, IL and was predeceased by his sister Janet Swearingen (husband Edward) of Indianapolis, IN.
Jim loved sports and was an avid fan of automobiles and auto racing, growing up in Indianapolis, he carefully followed the Indy car circuit and attended multiple races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway as well as other venues. Owning and driving sports cars was a favorite hobby of Mr. Wahle. He also enjoyed golf and regularly walking with his beloved wife Molly and their West Highland White Terriers. Spending time on the Lake Forest beaches on the shores of Lake Michigan was another favorite pastime.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Northwestern Memorial Foundation, P.O. Box 734985, Chicago, IL 60673-4985. Please make the check payable to “Northwestern Memorial Foundation” and include “James LeRoy Wahle” in the memo line. Donations can also be made online at (click ‘Give Now’) or over the phone at (833) 443-8663. Your gift will support Alzheimer’s patient care and research in the Neurology Program at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital.  
A memorial service celebrating Jim’s life will be scheduled at a later date. Info: Wenban Funeral Home, Lake Forest (847) 234-0022 or

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