By Matt B. Walen
A political era ended Tuesday afternoon in Hill County.
Jim Pasma, 66, the long-time Hill County Democratic Central Committee chairman, died Tuesday of natural causes at his Havre home.
Pasma stunned his fellow Democrats in October of 1997 by announcing his resignation as county chairman after more than 32 years of dedicated service to the party.
My personal situation has deteriorated terribly in the last few months, Pasma said in 1997. Im resigning effective tonight.
Time and the health problems caught up with Pasma on Election Day.
Debi Friede, the chairwoman of Hill County Democratic Central Committee, said Pasma was more than a political ally he was a friend.
Whenever I had a problem, all I had to do was call Jim, Friede said. He believed in me more than I believed in myself.
Patsy Sheldon, the central committees secretary since 1988, said Hill County and the Democratic Party lost one of its best members.
He really was Mr. Democrat, Sheldon said. He also believed in helping women to get into politics.
Havre Mayor Phyllis Leonard said she has known Pasma and his wife, Virginia, for years.
(The Pasmas) have always been good friends and neighbors, not only to me and my husband, but to a lot of people, she said.
Leonard said Pasma helped her understand a little more about politics and how to play the political game.
I admired him for his deep belief in the political party, she said. He was not discriminatory toward women. As far as he was concerned he felt women could do as good a job as men. He even told me that women do a better job because they pay a little more attention to detail.
Sen. Greg Jergeson, D-Chinook, said he has known Pasma for years and has had political dealings with him for at least 25 years.
He was always a place where a person could stop and get some good advice, Jergeson said. Even before I ran for the first time, I was always sure to pick Jims brain and get some good advice.
Pasmas other great passion in life was artwork.
Havre artist Arlene Morgan said Pasma did a number of different subjects in sculptures. But one in particular sticks in her memory, she said.
He did one work that I really liked called The Little Sheriff, she said. (The artwork) was a pugnacious little fellow.
Pasma told the Daily News in 1997 that he was proud of how hard the partys members have all worked together in returning the Democrats to power in Hill County. All 21 political offices are held by Democrats in Hill County, he said.
I didnt do it all by myself, Pasma said. You did it with me. I couldnt have done squat without you.
Pasma, who had a hard time seeing most of his many supporters and friends at the meeting, encouraged the Democratic supporters to continue backing the party and its candidates in coming elections.
We will always be outspent by the Republicans by two-to-one, he said. But we can out work em and out think em. We can damn sure out think em.
Pasma said the party will have to continue working together to get the Democratic candidates elected.
Pasma told the Daily News in a previous interview that the worst time in his 32 years was back in 1970 when the Hill County Democratic party was in serious trouble. The party was split in many factions during the trying time, he said.
I felt helpless in trying to get it back together, he said.
Hard work by Pasma and his many followers through the years has helped many local and state politicians get elected.
Pasma said his greatest accomplishment during his leadership tenure was in getting more women involved in elected offices.
That is the thing I tried to do the most and I feel I have made a contribution, he said.
Pasma is survived by a wife, Virginia, two daughters, Victoria Kostelecky and Farol Ranes, and two sons, Zarren and Zane Pasma.