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Published: Wednesday, 7/12/2006

Trucking executive loved excursions on his Harley

WAUSEON - James K. Jeska, 53, chief financial officer of Bryan Truck Line who got his start as a partner in his father's accounting firm, died Saturday when his motorcycle was hit from behind on Shaffer Road near Wilkins Road in western Lucas County.

Mr. Jeska was affiliated with the trucking firm in Montpelier, Ohio, since the late 1980s, his sister Elizabeth "B.J." Lord said.

The firm had been one of about 50 clients of Small Business Accountants in West Unity, Ohio, the firm his late father, Elmer, founded. The trucking line occupied so much of Mr. Jeska's time, it offered to hire him.

Mr. Jeska attended the University of Toledo's former Community and Technical College after graduation from Swanton High School.

"The idea was [he and his father] were going to become business partners," his sister said. "They were pretty close. Dad was very proud of his son, and I think it was a case of a whole lifetime of [Mr. Jeska] growing up, hearing his dad talking about [accounting]. Plus, he liked numbers."

When Mr. Jeska joined the firm, then based in Swanton, it became known as Elmer Jeska & Son. He liked the close contact of handling the books and preparing the taxes of the small businesses and farmers who were his clients. "This area is a small community. It's just intimate all the way around," said Michelle. Pettit, a friend.

His father died in 1983.

Mr. Jeska had a Harley-Davidson motorcycle by the time he graduated from high school, and he remained a devotee.

"The Harley was the biggest thing in his life," his sister said. "He had so many interests and so many loves, but the Harley never went away."

In the early 1980s, he took a month's ride to Alaska, south along the West Coast, across to Las Vegas, and home.

"He loved the open road," his sister said. "He loved being outside and having the wind in his face. He met people wherever he went, and he never lost friends."

Mr. Jeska's pursuits included scuba diving - both in the Atlantic Ocean and the Great Lakes - deer and pheasant hunting, fishing, golfing, and bowling.

"He loved everything the outdoors had to offer," Ms. Pettit said. "It was his peace and solitude after working behind a desk. He worked very hard, but he played as hard as he worked."

Surviving are his son, Steven Jeska, and sisters, Darlene Fritsch and Elizabeth "B.J." Lord.

Services will be at 11 a.m. tomorrow in the Weigel Funeral Home, Swanton, where the body will be after 2 p.m. today.

The family suggests tributes to a charity of the donor's choice.

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