Cover photo for James R. Hlavinka's Obituary
James R. Hlavinka Profile Photo
1930 James 2024

James R. Hlavinka

October 12, 1930 — March 19, 2024

East Bernard

James R. Hlavinka, a prominent figure in the agricultural community of Texas, passed away peacefully after a short illness. Born on October 12, 1930, in Bernard Prairie, East Bernard, Texas, James was the son of Rehor F. Hlavinka, who emigrated from Nechvalin in the Czech Republic, and Vlasta Mynarik Hlavinka from Ellinger, Texas.

James's life was a testament to hard work, dedication, and a deep love for his Czech heritage. He attended Bernard Prairie School before graduating from East Bernard High School in 1947. He furthered his education at Wharton County Junior College and Texas A&M University studying agricultural economics.

In 1952 James answered the call to serve his country, joining the U.S. Army where he attained the rank of corporal. Stationed in Germany from 1952 to 1954, he was a dispatcher who was frequently called upon to serve as a Czech interpreter since he was fluent in the Czech language.

Upon returning home to East Bernard, James immersed himself in his passion for farming his land, becoming a successful rice farmer and cattle rancher for over fifty years. His astute business acumen and unwavering determination earned him respect throughout Wharton, Matagorda and Colorado counties. He was an active member of the American Legion #226 and Knights of Columbus.

Beyond his professional accomplishments, James was a devoted husband to his beloved wife, Birdie Jo Kubena Hlavinka, whom he married on December 1, 1962. He cherished their 61 years of life together.

James was a proud member of the East Bernard Catholic Church, where he found joy in attending church bazaars and Czech festivals in surrounding communities. He treasured several of his visits to the Czech Republic where he had many friends. He had a twinkle in his eye, a sense of humor and a deep connection to his family, often spending evenings visiting with loved ones.

He is survived by his wife, Birdie Jo Hlavinka, and his nieces and nephews: Robert Hlavinka, Patricia Hlavinka, Janet Smaistrla King, Jason Hlavinka, Peggy Hlavinka Sevuktekin, Hank Hlavinka, Mary Ballou Running, Richard Ballou, Susan Smaistrla Wolter, Charles Smaistrla, Thomas Smaistrla, Carolyn Hlavinka, Patty Hlavinka, Eddie Kubena, Jerry Kubena, James Kubena, Patrick Kubena, David Kubena, John Kubena, Joseph Kubena, Diane Burton, Daniel Kubena, Anna Nelson, Rusty Kubena, and Tommy Kubena and numerous great-nieces and great-nephews. James was preceded in death by his parents and his siblings, Oldrich (wife Bessie), Julius (wife Christine), Beata Smaistrla (husband Frank), Jindrich, Henry J (wife Margie), and Martha Ballou (husband Richard) as well as nephews Edward, Arnold, Frank, and James J. Hlavinka.

A funeral service will be held at East Bernard Catholic Church. The visitation will take place on March 25th from 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm, followed by a Rosary at 1:30 pm. A Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 2:00 pm with the Very Rev. Charles Otsiwah officiating. Internment will follow at the East Bernard Holy Cross Cemetery, East Bernard, Texas. Memorial contributions can be made to the East Bernard EMS. Serving as pallbearers are Kyle Hlavinka, Todd Hlavinka, Jason Hlavinka, Richard Ballou, Charles Smaistrla and Matthew King.

James R. Hlavinka's legacy of hard work, love for his close family, and dedication to his Czech heritage will forever be cherished by those who knew him. May he rest in peace. 

Funeral Services are under the direction of Wharton Funeral Home. Condolences may be left at Published in the Wharton/El Campo Journal Spectator and the East Bernard Express.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of James R. Hlavinka, please visit our flower store.

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