Lohman/Chinook — James Kennedy Nemetz Jr., 90, of Lohman, a farmer, rancher and truck driver, passed away of natural causes Friday, March 8, 2013, following a three-week illness.
Funeral service is 11 a.m., Wednesday, March 13, at the Chinook High School Auditorium. Born on May 13, 1922, he was the son of James and Hazel Kennedy Nemetz, husband of Betty, dad to Ed, Becky and Anita, grampa and great-grampa … and a good friend to many.
Jim lived on the family farm in Lohman, Mont., for over 90 years. He raised his family there, as well as black Angus cattle, sugar beets, hay and wheat. He was known as a hard worker and an honest man. Jim’s word and handshake were as binding as a contract. He lived in the era where a gentleman tipped his hat to a lady and offered his chair to a woman or someone older than himself. Few of his friends are left on this earth that knew him as a young boy and teenager. His peers who are still with us today would say he had a great sense of humor, was the entertainer within his group of friends, loved horses, was the best driver of anything with a motor, enjoyed a game of pool, loved his life and friends, and was known to be one of the most responsible young men around. For example, as a high school student, the school district trusted him to drive one of the first school buses in the area. Jim graduated from Chinook High School in 1940.
His friends remember when he fell in love with Betty Ann Butler. He was 18 and she was 14. They dated for four years and were married on June 7, 1944. Betty and Jimmy celebrated 59 years of marriage before she died on August 28, 2003. He missed her deeply every day for the past nine years, six months and eight days.
How do you fit a life span of 90 years into one short newspaper obituary column? It is not easy, so you will need to fill in the columns with love and your own personal memories … here are some of ours: Everybody was welcomed at Mom and Dad’s. We didn’t have much money, but we had everything we needed and a little more. What we did have was shared with many. We lived in the country and loved it. We loved country music, country dances, country gatherings and the country way of life. There was no such thing as a two-week vacation from the farm. However, we did enjoy camping at Clear Creek, Beaver Creek and Glacier National Park. Picnics were enjoyed in the yard, at Zurich Park, or at a family or friend’s home during the hot days of summer. In later years, Mom and Dad joined camping clubs, traveled to Branson, as well as many other fall trips. They did not need the company of family or friends to enjoy their time together. As long as they were side by side, they were happy.
We were raised on three meals a day. For breakfast it was cereal or bananas on toast. Dinner (we didn’t know the word lunch) and supper meals were at 12 noon and 6 p.m. every day, and they consisted of meat, potatoes, gravy, a salad or vegetables, bread and butter, plus dessert. Fresh-squeezed lemonade and oranges or green Kool-Aid with fresh squeezed oranges and lemons was a staple on our kitchen table along with a cold drink of water or a bottle of Coke. We didn’t know what margarine or Cool Whip was because most everything served was natural, home-grown and hand-made.
Our family attended Chuckwagon Days in Harlem, the Blaine and Hill county fairs, rodeos and dress reviews, 4-H meetings and numerous family gatherings. Dad served on the school boards at Lohman and Chinook for many years. He and fellow board members were instrumental in the building and completion of Chinook High School’s Floyd Bowen Gym. He was a truck driver (hauled everything from stock to irrigation pipe to entire households all over the United States), brand inspector, volunteer fire fighter, and because the farm was so close to the highway, he was the 24-hour gas station for motorists experiencing car trouble and travelers in need of gas. Mom and Dad knew no strangers; once you said hi, you were considered a friend.
In no particular order, dad loved and enjoyed his friends and family, his life on the farm, time spent at the Chinook Stockyards, country music, pinochle, rummy, rodeos, “Jeopardy,” “Wheel of Fortune” and anything on the RFD station. He was thankful for hot meals and shared desserts made with love: cookies and banana bread without nuts, pumpkin bread, jams, jellies, syrups, fresh baked bread and buns, rhubarb, apple, pumpkin or lemon meringue pie and any cake, his favorites being angel food and white cake with homemade chocolate coffee frosting.
Dad still drove, lived independently, and attended as many activities and family gatherings as he could. He had a great memory, was full of history and would share stories, but usually only if asked questions. He took a common sense approach to everything he did.
Life on the farm was not without fires, floods and drought, but there was no time to dwell on the negative because there were so many blessings to be thankful for.
Survivors include his children and their families: Ed Nemetz of Chinook, Becky Anderson Blake of Havre and Anita and Pete Haluszka from Harlem; grandchildren, Wes and Stacy Anderson, Russell Nemetz and Rachel, Chris Nemetz, Angie and Jack Young, Pete Haluszka Jr. and Rhenda, Carly Haluszka, and Rick and Julia Haluszka; great-grandchildren, Damon and Kaitlin Anderson, Tyler Nemetz, Gracie and Jackson Young, and Dane Frey-Haluszka; brother-in-law, J.T. and Wilma Butler; sisters-in-law Rosaleen Peterson and Emma Turner, and his best friend, best man and “just like a brother,” Edward Felton.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Betty; parents James and Hazel Nemetz, P.O. and Besse Butler; and brothers-in-law, Jack Peterson and George Turner.
Whether you knew him as Dad, Grampa, Great-Gramppa, Jim, Jimmy, James Jr., Mr. Nemetz or the man in the white truck with the red “Nemetz” sign above the cab, he will be missed and remembered with love.
Edward’s Funeral home in Chinook is in charge of his arrangements.