James E. Kratz of Caro, Mich., passed away on Saturday, September 16, at his home following a courageous battle with cancer.

Jim graduated from Caro High School with the class of 1980 and was the first Caro student to receive an appointment to the United States Military Academy West Point in New York. While at the academy, Jim realized his true passion in life was farming, and chose to return to Caro to follow that dream after accepting an early honorable discharge from the military.

Upon his return to Caro, Jim received a crash course in the fine art of farming during his time at Garner Farms in Vassar and later took a position in 1990 with the Tuscola Conservation District, serving most recently as a district administrator. He developed the most successful no-till drill renting and custom planting arm of the NRCS in the state of Michigan, according to long-time friend Pat Sheridan.

A farmer to the end, Jim always found ways to keep his hands in the dirt on his own farm and working with his friends at the Sheridan and Lagos farms.