James Manuel Coffman November 23, 1932 - October 25, 2022
James “Jim” Manuel Coffman passed away peacefully in Choteau, Montana October 25, 2022. Jim was born November 23, 1932 to Elmer and Stella (Manuel) Coffman in Lewistown, Montana. He was the 7th child in a family of 9 who ‘homesteaded’ their way from Winnett, Montana to Lewistown and eventually to Fairfield. Jim was educated in the Greenfield and Fairfield schools where he graduated in 1951. After graduation he worked for his older brother Donnie in Powell, Wyoming. He met and married Jacqueline “Jackie” Wilson in Cody, Wyoming on August 15, 1952 and thus became “Jim & Jackie” for the next 61 years. When Jim was drafted the family moved to Fort Lewis, Washington. During this time their son James A. was born. Once Jim was discharged from the Army the family moved back to Cody, Wyoming where daughters Pamela Jean (1955) and Lorri Ann (1956) were born. Jim worked as a parts man in Cody for the Ford Garage but winters in the small tourist town were difficult so the family moved to Fairfield in 1957 for work. He took on many jobs and opportunities in Fairfield working for Mills Ford, farm equipment dealerships, leasing the Texaco station and even running for Sheriff. He moved the family to nearby Great Falls to work as a ranch hand and then onto Chester, Montana in 1965 when again an opportunity to work as a parts man for a farm equipment dealership opened up. In 1977 he began work as the City Manager of Chester. During this time, he used his collection of skills to manage local municipal building projects and repairs. He also participated in regional and statewide associations to improve rural water access.
Jim always liked a good laugh and he loved to be the instigator of good natured and sometimes not so good natured teasing or shenanigans. The laughter he shared with his siblings, nieces, nephews, kids, grandkids and friends leave many happy memories. Most of Jim’s life he enjoyed two things: a good country western song and dance or a horse, especially a horse. Whether owning, breaking, trading, feeding, packing, shoeing, driving or laying on the ground he was never far from one. Jim did his best to pass this love along to his kids which meant vacation time was spent in the Bob Marshall Wilderness on a pack trip and not going to Disney Land. The family occasionally made trips back to Cody to visit Jackie’s family. Jim built a colorful– very colorful, pop-up trailer to stay in–every bit the Gypsy Family. Jim could build, fix or repair most anything and usually it worked when he was done. He became a skilled woodworker and built many pieces of fine furniture for his family that will be cherished. Overall, he was a good hand to have around.
The family built a cabin in the Little Belt Mountains south of Lewistown in 1982. It served as a gathering spot, recreation area and later as a retirement home for Jim & Jackie. Jackie was always a welcome sight on the porch when friends and family drove into the yard. Shortly after retiring Jackie passed away from Alzheimer’s (2013). Jim cared for her the best he could and dearly missed her as she slowly left. A welcome change came for Jim when he reconnected and married his high-school sweetheart, LaVerne Maxwell, from Fairfield in 2015. The couple lived in Fairfield where they enjoyed dancing whenever the chance came along, visiting each other’s family, attending church and taking very good care of one another. Their common history and ease together brought them and their family’s great joy. They each inherited a whole new set of ‘grands’ and ‘greats’ to love. As LaVerne remarked, “I wouldn’t do this with anyone else.” She was a blessing to Jim and his family and her death in August 2022 was heartbreaking.
Jim is survived by his son Jim (Susan) of Joplin, MT and daughter Lorri (Rod) Coulter of Brusett, MT, Son-in-Law Ray Scheele of Loma, MT, and their children Darci, Cami (Steve), Colt (Trish), Eric, Aaron, Casey (Lacey) & Chelsea (Bryan), his brother Willis (Bill) Coffman of Red Lodge, MT and sister June Legg of Great Falls, MT. His step children include Ed, Gwen, Patty McConnell (Shaun) of Reno, NV, Steve Maxwell (Roberta) of Ennis, MT, Teresa Poor (Jeff) of Sun River, MT and Hugh Maxwell Jr. (Lori) of Gig Harbor, WA and their families always made Jim feel accepted and loved. He is also survived by his many great and great-great grandchildren. Jim was predeceased by his parents Stella and Elmer, wife Jackie, wife LaVerne, daughter Pam and siblings Thomas, Doris, Edith, Donnie, Fern, and Joan.
Funeral services are planned for November 26, 2022 at 11:00 at the New Life Church in Fairfield, Montana.
Condolences may be left on-line at www.gorderjensenfuneralhome.com