James R. Stoetzel, 76, of Georgetown, Massachusetts, died September 6, 2023, after a brief illness. He was the husband of Susan Madigan, with whom he shared 32 years of marriage. He has lived in Georgetown since 1995, traveled the globe to consult on commuter rail operations, and frequented a second home in Stockton, California. Born in Lyons, New York he was the son of the late Albert “Buzz” Stoetzel and Mary Ellen VanNortwick. He went to Lyons Public Schools before attending Canisius College in Buffalo, New York, where he played Division 1 baseball as a first baseman. Jim went on to graduate school at the University of Virginia where he received a Master's Degree in History.
Jim was a second-generation railroader starting out in the signal department like his father Buzz on the New York Central Railroad. After graduate school, he worked at the Boston & Maine Railroad in the signal department and soon rose to the position of General Manager of the B&M Commuter Rail passenger train service in Boston. He mentored many railroaders, many of whom became managers, and all looked up to him for his expertise and guidance. For the next 40 plus years Jim held many high-level executive positions in the railroad industry. He was Vice President of Transportation for Guilford Industries (successor to the B&M), responsible for freight rail operations for three railroads, the Maine Central, the Boston & Maine, and the Delaware & Hudson. He was Director of Suburban Operations for the Burlington Northern Railroad, where he managed the commuter rail operations in Chicago. He became Project Manager for the Burlington Northern Railroad’s first international commuter rail venture, the privatization of the subway and commuter rail system in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Jim was then a consultant in the field of railroad operations and management, working on various projects worldwide including South Africa, where he conducted an operational analysis of their major passenger rail lines; Hungary, conducting a re-structuring study of the Hungarian State Railways; Warsaw, Poland; Bombay, India; Mexico City and Aukland, New Zealand. He also spent a considerable amount of time working for the Government of Ontario (GO) Transit in the procurement of rail equipment. He was most proud of his accomplishments in the field of contract procurement.
Jim headed the team that wrote the proposal and won, after a highly competitive review of multiple bidders, a $2.6 billion, eight-year contract to operate and maintain the Boston Commuter Rail service in 2014. It was the single largest public transportation contract in the country at that time.
In addition to his wife, Susan, Jim is survived by two children, Benjamin J. Stoetzel, of Holliston and Gabrielle Stoetzel Madigan of Medford. Also in Holliston are his daughter-in-law Kristin and his grandchildren, Emmeline and Morgen. His brother, Robert Stoetzel, lives on Long Island, New York. The number of nieces and nephews that will greatly miss Jim are too numerous to be listed. His beloved rescue terriers, Rexy and Rory, and grand dog, Hank, will also miss him dearly.
Calling hours will be held on Tuesday, September 12th at the Conte-Giamberardino Funeral Home, 14 Pleasant Street, Georgetown from 4 to 8 pm. A funeral mass will be held at St. Mary’s Church, 94 Andover Street, Georgetown at 11 am on Wednesday, September 13th. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the MSPCA at mspca.org or PetSmart Charities at petsmartcharities.org. For funeral home directions or to share a memory of Jim with his family, please visit www.cgfuneralhomegeorgetown.com