Jimmie (Jim) Arnold Morgan, 74, died of natural causes in his motorhome in Clarkston, Washington on May 28, 2020. Jim was born to Hermon and Martha Morgan on May 3, 1946 in Joplin, Missouri. He was the tenth of twelve children, with two older brothers (Herman Jr. and Bill) and one younger brother (Rodney) as well as seven older sisters (Marjorie, Juanita, Marcella, Ferntella, Betty, Shelby, and Jacque) and one younger sister (Waynoka). His family moved to Yakima, Washington in 1948, where he grew up and attended school.
After graduating from A.C. Davis Senior High School in 1964, Jim enlisted in the Air Force in 1965. He completed basic training at Lackland AFB in San Antonio, Texas, and then was trained in the repair of ground radio communications equipment at the Keesler Technical Training Center at Keesler AFB in Biloxi, Mississippi. From Keesler, he transferred to Malmstrom AFB in Great Falls, Montana where he served in the 694th radio squadron as a communications electronics specialist. While stationed in Great Falls, Jim met and fell in love with Barbara Ann Zahn. They married in 1967 and had a daughter (Tammi) in 1970. After completing four years of active duty, Jim was honorably discharged from the Air Force in 1971 with the rank of Sergeant. He and Barb moved to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and had a son (Chad) in 1973. Several years later they moved to Barb’s hometown of Circle, Montana in 1976 and had a second son (Tony) in 1977. Finally they moved to Missoula, Montana in 1985 where they resided until they divorced in 1989. Jim never remarried.
In the course of his lifetime, Jim held several occupations. In 1978 he became certified as an ambulance emergency medical technician, and in 1980 he trained for and became a disaster and emergency services first responder as well. During these years he also worked as a school bus driver and logged thousands of volunteer service hours with the American Red Cross in the areas of first aid, water safety, and the management of hazardous materials, poisonings and overdose. In 1982 he received certification in hospital engineering and, in this role, he was trained in improving the efficiency of high pressure boilers. Subsequently in 1984 he became licensed as a second-class boiler engineer. He also served and received accolades for his work as the hospital night security guard in 1986. In 1988 he began advanced driver education training at the Missoula Vocational Technical Center and graduated as a commercial truck operator in 1990. He was hired by Swift Transportation Co. Inc. and was awarded the American Trucking Association Professional Truck Driver Safe Driving Award in 1993.
Jim drove for Swift until 1994 when he suffered a life threatening motorcycle accident in which he broke his back in several places, requiring life supportive measures and emergency surgery. At the time, Jim and his family were told that he may never walk again and definitely not without the assistance of a walker or cane. Anyone who knew Jim though knows how strong and physically active he was, almost right up to the end of his life, and how much he liked to walk but also how stubborn and determined he could be. He proved the doctors wrong, gaining full mobility back after months of extensive physical rehabilitation, and he walked without assistance for the rest of his life.
Following his recovery, in 1995 Jim moved to Lewiston, Idaho and became the groundskeeper for the Lewiston Roundup Grounds, where he worked until his retirement in 2008. After that he cared for the Lewis Clark Saddle Club in Clarkston for several years, before moving to RimRock RV Park. Jim was a long time member of the American Legion Posts in both Lewiston and Clarkston and served on the Honor Guard for fallen veterans and warriors. As such, he received and proudly wore the National Defense Service Medal in 2011 that he earned from his past military service.
Jim was a proud self-proclaimed “jack of all trades but master of none.” Throughout his life, he enjoyed working and staying busy in a multitude of settings (and met many wonderful people along the way) in maintenance, electrical, building houses, as a health provider (EMT), police officer, fireman, security guard, grounds keeper, painter, welder, and long haul truck driver. Jim liked to keep himself busy with any project, and many people knew him in his retirement years as a general laborer or handyman. In his own words, Jim’s favorite hobbies or activities that he enjoyed the most were “anything that keeps my hands busy, my mind alert, and my heart holding a song.” He kept active helping his friends whether it be feeding horses, cats or dogs, painting houses, mowing lawns, working on vehicles, or building fences or corrals. He enjoyed crossword puzzles, word finds, and sudoku to keep his mind occupied between his daily walks.
Jim’s favorite places to be were “anywhere it is peaceful, be it the mountains or a lake shore”. He had a passion for fishing, stating that “for many years, fishing was my choice over everything. The quiet of a mountain stream or lake is so refreshing to the mind, heart, and soul. The most exciting was my treat to my sons on an ocean fishing trip off Washington state. We were only bottom fishing, but the wave action and the thrill of all that water was a great experience, and to see it through my boys’ eyes was wonderful.”
Jim also had a love for animals, especially his beloved dog, Junior, who in Jim’s words “chose” him in 1999 at the age of 5. Junior was Jim’s “companion for almost 12 years and had a good long life at almost 17 years old, passing of old age in 2011”. In his final memoirs, Jim wrote “I miss him every day.”
Jim said often that he felt very blessed in his life by his family (siblings, children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren). He worked hard but always made time to see and stay connected to family by taking long annual road trips across a dozen or more states to southern California, Texas, Michigan, and Montana.
Jim is survived by his three children: his daughter - Tammi (Appis) and sons - Chad and Tony; four siblings: brother – Rodney, and sisters - Jacque, Shelby (McCallum), and Waynoka (Shellenberger); eight grandchildren, two great grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews – all of whom he dearly loved.
At Jim’s request, no funeral or public viewing was held. The interment of his ashes will be held with full military honors at Sunset Memorial Gardens in Missoula, Montana on Friday, July 17, 2020 at 3:00 PM. A celebration of his life is planned in conjunction with the Hells Canyon Aerie #3936 (better known as the Clarkston Eagles) on Sunday, July 19, 2020 at 11:00 AM at Beachview Park in Clarkston. Please sign the online Memory Wall in his honor at https://merchantmemorialgroup.com/book-of-memories/4227465/Morgan-Jim/index.php.