James Russell (Jim) Hanson, 85, of Missoula, passed away the morning of July 24, 2009, at home comforted by his wife, children and the care of Partners Hospice, following complications from a heart attack and hip fractures.
Jim was born on June 18, 1924, in Havre, Mont., to Charles William and Verna Mae (Lockhart) Hanson. Growing up during the Depression in a family of six children and his grandfather, all in a two-bedroom house, Jim developed a set of values that stuck with him throughout his life hard work, appreciating what you have, frugality, and devotion to family. Upon graduation from Havre High School in 1942, he began working nights for the Great Northern Railroad in the freight house and enrolled at Northern Montana College in the fall. World War II interrupted his college education. Jim joined the Navy in 1943 and was sent to the Pacific Theater. He served as an aviation radioman/ gunner on a PBM Mariner seaplane hunting enemy submarines and conducting search and rescue operations during the Iwo Jima and other campaigns. Sixty years later, Jim and his entire family traveled to Washington, D.C., to celebrate the dedication of the World War II Memorial. Returning from the war in 1946, Jim resumed his education and his employment at Great Northern Railroad. He also met the love of his life, marrying Mavis Maxine Bishop of Kremlin, Mont., in Havre on July 16, 1947. In 1954, Jim moved his growing family to Great Falls where he built his own home from a kit that arrived via boxcar. He continued working for Great Northern, which eventually became Burlington Northern Railway, in Great Falls for another 25 years. Then, in 1981, he transferred one last time with BN, this time to Missoula, and worked until his retirement in 1984 after 42 years with the company. He is survived by his wife of 62 years; children, Janice Liane of Spokane, Wash., Russell (Margie) Hanson of Phoenix, Ariz., and Julie (Gary) Brooks of Missoula. He loved his grandchildren, Jessika and Kirsten Liane, Erik and Emily Hanson, and Cameron and Cassidy Brooks, and lived to see one great-grandson, Paul David Jontig III (Paulson), son of Jessika Liane. He is also survived by brothers, Robert Charles (Dona Mae), Ralph Eugene (Donna) and Leroy “Skip” Walter (Jo) Hanson; and numerous nieces, nephews and other relatives. Jim was preceded in death by his parents, Charles, Feb. 7, 1970, and Verna, Dec. 27, 1989, and two sisters, Mildred Kathryn Saylor and Juanita Mae Adams. A brother, Kenneth, died in 1929, at not quite 2 years of age. Services will be held Wednesday, Aug. 5, at 11 a.m., at St. Paul Lutheran Church, 202 Brooks St., Missoula. Jim’s ashes will then be interred in the Columbarium at the Veterans Cemetery in Missoula. An honor guard service will be held at 2:30 p.m. Memorials in Jim’s memory are suggested to Partners Hospice, 2687 Palmer St., Suite B, Missoula, MT 59808; Western Montana State Veterans Cemetery, 1911 Tower Road, Missoula, MT 59804; or St. Paul Lutheran Church.