John “Jim” E. Stilwell met the Lord on Sept. 7, 2011 after a valiant fight through many surgeries that finally took their toll. His family was all at his bedside at Sacred Heart Medical Center.
Jim was born in Everett and soon after, his family moved to Oroville. He soon grew to a young man and was anxious to see what was on the other side of the mountains. He found himself in Inchelium in 1948, and connected with an older brother recently out of the service. As the years went on, Jim fell in love and married a local girl, who he had four children with: Roberta, Everett, Billie and John.
Finding it hard to find steady work as a young man, he worked in road construction, a sawmill and was a self-taught mechanic who was always getting better on the guitar. Jim got restless after several years and traveled to Salt Lake City, UT, where he eventually met his second wife, bringing him David and Jimmy.
He always had his Gibson at his side, now having experience and a great voice to add to it. Jim loved performing in churches or sit-ins. In the years to come, he was to marry again and added Julie and Lisa to his now family of eight.
He went to work for the Boilermakers in a position that relo¬cated him to Wyoming. Always curious, Jim and his family went to Alaska to be with his three brothers and two sisters already established there. He went to work on a fishing rig, learned to fly a plane that he eventually purchased, and also bagged his first caribou. Jim lived in many states, including Florida and California, and eventually made his home in Colville, where he owned and operated a vacuum cleaner business.
With music now a big part of his life, after retiring, he focused on playing music, hunting and forever fishing, and with all of his family beside him, he was home. Playing at the Eagles Club, he met and later married an established singer. The rest was history with their music together. They had a band named Bear Country where Georgia sang and filled in on drums when needed. They played with other bands and had many “guest” musicians. People enjoyed them from Inchelium to Colville and all of the small cities in between, including Yuma, AZ, where they spent their winters.
Jim lost Georgia, and it broke up their band. He then had more surgeries, but he always came back stronger. He still played music, fished, hunted and spent time with his family. More surgeries plagued his life, but he always came through, and came through strong. While still healing from grieving, he met a woman who was to be his companion through three more surgeries. Julie’s constant help and caring helped to ease the pain and keep him cheerful.
Surrounded by his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, sister, nieces and nephews and some of his “adopted” children, the fight for life ended. “Grampa” sang the Chicken Song, Rock Candy Mountain and The Good Old Days. He will be missed.
Jim is survived by his children, Roberta Frost (Denny), Inchelium; Julie Hall, Everett; Lisa Byrns (Robert), Nevada; Everett Stillwell, Elaine Stillwell, Billie Stillwell and Kay Stillwell, all of Inchelium; John Stillwell (Laurie), Loon Lake; David Stillwell, Colville, and Jimmy Stillwell (Sherry) of Salt Lake City, Utah; numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren; sisters Judy Miller, Colville; Lorelei Davies and Carol Gagne (Buzz), Vancouver; Betty Rachlin, Chehalis; Lorraine Hood, Kettle Falls, and Karen Stillwell of Nevada.
The family wishes to thank the Colville Eagles Club for their continued support and kindness to all the family during the years, and again for now. Also, thanks to our families in Spokane who were very helpful and always at his bedside to help with whatever needed to be done, and to friends and musicians.
The funeral service was held Sept. 13 at the Danekas Funeral Chapel in Colville. The burial was held at Hall Creek Cemetery in Inchelium.
The Danekas Funeral Chapel and Crematory was entrusted with arrangements.
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