Those are words once spoken by Marco Island’s master wood craftsman, Jim Chute. The hearts of Marco Islanders were broken on July 23, 2017 when Jim lost his short but courageous battle with cancer. His wife Linda said, “It was a battle we lost before we even knew we were in the battle. The cancer came like a thief in the night. The enemy had already scaled the castle walls.” Cherishing her memories of this amazing man, and thankful that he did not endure extended suffering, she added “God is merciful.”
Marco Islanders knew Jim as the owner of the Island Woodshop, Inc., a business partnership that he and Linda started in 1992. Linda joked about their working relationship, saying, “I always told him ‘Don’t touch my calculator’ and Jim said ‘Don’t touch my tools!’” In the beginning, Jim focused on building custom kitchen and bath cabinets. He crafted them with great expertise, making sure there were no fillers or wasted space. As time went on, his focus turned to furniture repair and refinishing. His specialties included antique restoration, entertainment centers reworked to accommodate flat screens, and custom hand stained finishes. Jim was considered to be a miracle worker in repairing table scratches, water marks and areas of “doggie chews.” One Marco Islander recalled his woodworking skills, saying “I had an antique what-not shelf given to me by my grandmother. The scroll work on the side had broken apart and Jim fixed it. You would never know it wasn’t always 100% whole. He was amazing!” Jim was very proud of a giant clothespin, a specially crafted reproduction that he made upon personal request from a local resident to display in her home.
But there was so much more to Jim Chute than many Marco Islanders ever knew. The third of thirteen children, Jim had served in the Air Force, doing a tour of duty in Vietnam from June 1964 to 1968. He and his then wife, Marie, moved to Marco Island from New Lexington, Ohio in 1971. He worked in construction, framing houses in the old Lely Manor resort. Later, he worked as a foreman for Eastwood Construction, building homes in Hideaway Beach. Jim once had the unique experience of building what was referred to as the “Roth House,” a custom built home for a certain David Roth, who was, according to Linda Chute, the David Lee Roth of Van Halen fame. The Roth House featured a oneof a-kind pyramid dome of intricate wooden slats and glass set over a Jacuzzi.
In his early days on Marco Island, Jim was a member of the Jaycees, a group of energetic civic-minded islanders who initiated all kinds of fun events – a Fourth of July parade, fireworks and a haunted house. He was a Boy Scout leader and served for many years on the School Advisory Council (SAC) at Tommie Barfield Elementary School with Dr. Jory Westberry. In 2000, he constructed a Peanuts float in memory of Charles Schulz for the Mothers of Marco in the annual Christmas parade. Since 2001, he constructed the Christmas floats for Tommie Barfield Elementary School. A Range Safety Officer for the NRA, he presented educational programs on the importance of respect and safety in the realm of shooting sports.
Jim was blessed with the gift of raising two families on Marco Island. One of his greatest joys was taking his family to Disney World, sometimes twice a year. He will be greatly missed by his son Shaun and daughter Jodie from his first marriage to their mother Marie, and Bradley, his son with Linda. Jim was the loving grandfather of five wonderful boys. He will live in their hearts forever.
Jim’s devotion to those of future generations did not stop with his family. The children of Marco Island will be touched by Jim’s creative talent and love of the island for many years to come. Jim was part of the team that constructed Kids’ Cove, the much-loved playground and waterspray park at Mackle Park.
Linda Chute described her husband as the “energizer bunny” who fought all the way to the end, never quitting, and always loving to go to the place he called home – the Island Woodshop. A celebration of Jim’s life will take place on August 12th at 11 AM at the San Marco Catholic Church. All are welcome to come and share in remembering this amazing man who helped build this island with his gifted hands and spirit of warmth.