James (Jim) Allen Lofftus of Turah passed away at his daughter’s home in Missoula on September 19, 2019. He was born September 10, 1931, in Helena, MT, and was adopted by George and Sue (Robbins) Lofftus. He was the oldest of four children and grew up in Hamilton and Darby areas. His family owned a restaurant in Hamilton and then the Sleeping Child Hot Springs South of Darby. Jim graduated from Darby High School in 1950 and entered the Army to serve in the Korean War as an airplane mechanic. After being discharged from the Army in 1953, Jim worked for the Forest Service and several sawmills in the Hamilton area. In 1956, helped by the VA’s job training program, Jim started his lifelong career as a union electrician.
On December 1, 1956, Jim married Mathilda (Tillie) Viola Ebel in Missoula. Early in his career he worked in Fairbanks, Alaska; Hanford, Odessa, Vancouver, and Kent, Washington; and San Jose, California. The family returned to Missoula in 1963 where Jim worked on many construction projects including the former Horner Waldorf paper mill, the UM Mike Mansfield Library, Community Hospital, Bonner Mill, Louisiana Pacific particle board plant and numerous other construction projects throughout the area. Jim was a proud member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and served for a brief time as the Business Manager.
Jim and his family lived in the Target Range Trailer Court until they moved to Turah in 1972. Jim was very actively involved in the community throughout his life. He served as a volunteer firefighter and EMT with the Missoula Rural Fire District Station #4 (Piltzville) from May 1974 to June 1994. He also served on the Board of Trustees of the Missoula Rural Fire District from 1977 to 1997 serving as Board Chair several times. During this service he helped form the Montana Fire Districts Association. Being involved in the Democratic Party and a campaign supporter of the Governor enabled Jim and Tillie to attend the Governor’s Ball in 1969.
Jim and Tillie enjoyed their 50th anniversary trip to Hawaii so much that they made a second trip a few years later. He enjoyed reading, gardening and camping in his younger years. During retirement Jim and Tillie enjoyed photography and traveling throughout the western states especially to national parks including Yellowstone, Glacier, Zion, Yosemite, Craters of the Moon and Mount Rainier. Several of these trips were with their children and grandchildren. Highlights include getting a granddaughter kicked out of a Las Vegas casino and riding a narrow gauge railroad in Durango, CO. Jim and Tillie shared many of their memories of these trips by giving family members framed photos as gifts.
He was preceded in death by his parents, sisters Patricia Felice and Shelley Oertli and brother Daniel Lofftus. Jim will be lovingly remembered by his wife of nearly 63 years, Tillie and their children Susan Kilcrease (Lloyd) of Missoula, MT and their children, Danielle, Matthew, Bryan and Bridget; David (Sharon) of Helena, MT and their children, Elizabeth, Rosalie, Michael, Angela, Catherine and Cynthia; Wyatt (Bev) of Renton, WA and their children Kyle and Ryan; Lyndon of Winnemucca, NV; and many great grandchildren.
Cremation has taken place. There will be a memorial service on November 2nd at 1 pm at the Orchard Homes County Life Club at 2537 S 3rd Street in Missoula.