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James Joseph "Jim" Whittle

February 14, 1955 February 28, 2019
James Joseph "Jim" Whittle
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Obituary for James Joseph "Jim" Whittle

James Joseph “Jim” Whittle
Jim Whittle was born to Mary Ellen and Jerry Whittle on February 14, 1955, in Billings, Montana. He conquered cancer in 2008, but another round of throat cancer returned recently and could not be overcome. Jim appreciated comfort from family, hospice caregivers, and his good friend and roommate, Kay Barnett, as he eventually died peacefully at his home in Bozeman on February 28, 2019, at the young age of 64.

Jim was the fifth of ten children, and always looked out for the “little kids.” Jim made sure that Barb, Joe and Laura had the best fishing hole, and entertained them by swinging them around, and walking Laura on the ceiling. Jim even dove off his motorcycle to save Laura as she panicked on a runaway mini-bike. He and his brothers survived some memorable adventures at the McKeever grandparents’ farm east of Forsyth, as they caught and rode the horse and assisted with farm chores. Jim created interesting and mostly-legal memories with his school buddies, and told the tale of releasing bowling balls from the top of North 27th Street with the Gullickson brothers, just to observe what path the balls might take.

Jim attended Little Flower and Holy Rosary Catholic grade schools, and graduated from Billings Senior High in 1973. While in school, he began working at JB’s Restaurant, where he became a manager and opened a new JB’s as one of the first occupants of the new Rimrock Mall. In 1978, Jim moved to Bozeman and worked for ABC Rental, where his mechanical skills were a valuable asset. He liked living in four corners, where he could go fishing out his back door. In 1984, Jim signed on with the maintenance and custodial staff at Montana State University, where he worked the night shift for 35 years, retiring February 1, 2019. All of his siblings and many of his nieces, nephews, and great-nieces/nephews recently gathered in Bozeman to celebrate his retirement with music, food, and merriment.

Jim, with his roommate and co-worker Kay, lived on the outskirts of Bozeman, where they at times wrangled horses, cattle, and most recently, chickens. Kay’s adult children, Russell, Roger, and Glenda, considered Jim family. Jim kept the woodstove going, chopping an extensive and neatly-stacked supply of firewood throughout the year. He was rightfully proud of his successful efforts to “turn over a new leaf” in 1995 at age 40, when he quit smoking and gave up alcohol.

Uncle Jim became close to two of his nephews who lived in Bozeman, as he, Eric, and Matt embarked on floating-fishing trips on the Madison River, snowmobile riding, and other outdoor pursuits. Uncle Jim even sat at the hospital with Matt’s wife, Amy, when childbirth was suddenly imminent and Matt had briefly stepped away. For the past ten years, Jim used his craftsman skills to build an off-the-grid cabin on his land near Clarkston, Montana. He wishes for the family to finish the cabin, hold gatherings there, and enjoy the fruits of his labor.

Jim was preceded in death by his parents and grandparents, his aunt Mary Joan Haun; his brothers John and Joe, and his niece, Alyssa. He is survived by his brother Tom and wife Carol of Shepherd, and sister-in-law Brenda Whittle and family of Billings. Jim’s sisters and spouses are Kathy and Larry Dreyer of Helena, Patty and Ron Nordlund of Billings, Marjorie and J.C. Knaub of Big Sky, Carrie and Kevin Winegardner of Helena, Barbara Whittle of Billings, and Laura and Eric Humberger of Bozeman. Jim’s nieces and nephews include Kris Brandt, Mark and Paul Dreyer; Matt Whittle and Lacy Svingen; Eric and Ryan Nordlund; Kate, Clint, and Ellen Whittle; Jeff Knaub and Kristi Borge; Tyler and Angela Arbour, Heather and Haley Manska; Adam and Grant Romo; and Logan and Dylan Humberger. Jim is also survived by aunts Connie Rasky, Joan Zormeir, and Sheila Blakesley, along with many cousins, great-nieces and great-nephews.

Jim was a good, caring, generous person with a quick and humorous wit, who will be missed by all who knew him. Cremation has taken place under arrangements with Dahl Funeral & Cremation Service of Bozeman. Jim wishes for the family to gather in the spring to celebrate his memory and his life. A graveside service will be held at Willow Creek Cemetery.

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