He was born June 25, 1934 in Hays one of three children of Jack A. and Mildred A. (Joy) Drees. He attended St. Joseph’s Catholic grade school and graduated from St. Joseph’s Military Academy in 1952. In 1967, he graduated from Fort Hays Kansas State College with a B.S. degree in Business.
On November 26, 1955 he was united in marriage to Alice M. Schmidt in Goodland, Kansas. They celebrated nearly 38 years of marriage before she preceded him in death on September 5, 1993. He managed Drees New Method Cleaners and in 1999, he retired as a property appraiser for Shawnee County. His memberships include, St. Joseph Catholic Church, the St. Joseph Third Degree Knights of Columbus Council #1325, the Bishop Cunningham Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus, the Senior Companion Program at FHSU, and Toastmasters. His favorite hobbies were his grandchildren, watching British mystery shows, and watching NFL football and rooting for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Survivors include his six children; Janet M. Keller, James D. Drees, Carol J. Drees, Michael J. Drees and wife Sonya, and Thomas J. Drees and wife Patricia, all of Hays, and Daniel J. Drees and companion Emiko Shishido of Fukushima City, Japan, five grandchildren; Christopher R. Keller of Newton, Samantha M. Drees of Overland Park, Derek M. Drees of Hays, Anne K. Drees and husband Shae Koerner of LaCrosse, and John T. Drees of Lawrence, a sister-in-law; Venita Sanders of Richmond, Virginia, and numerous nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, his wife Alice, an infant daughter Mary C. Drees, an infant son Gary R. Drees, a sister Sylvia A. Mori, a brother Donald E. Drees, and a brother-in-law Gary Schmidt.
Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10:30 am on Saturday, December 8, 2018 at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 201 W. 13th, Hays, with Fr. Fred Gatschet officiating. Burial will follow in the St. Joseph Cemetery. Visitation will be from 4:00 pm until 8:00 on Friday and from 9:30 am until 10:15 on Saturday, all at the Hays Memorial Chapel Funeral Home, 1906 Pine Street. The Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus will stand honor guard beginning at 5:30, a parish vigil service will be at 6:30, and a combined Third and Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus rosary will be at 7:00 pm, all on Friday at the funeral home.
Memorials are suggested to TMP-Marian High School, Ellis County Historical Society, St. Joseph Church, or to the Hays Senior Companion Program, in care of the funeral home. Condolences and memories of James may be shared with the family at www.haysmemorial.com