James (Jim) Samuelson, 88, died at home in Yuma, Ariz. on Oct. 9.
Born Sept 1, 1924, he grew up the second of four brothers on a farm in depression era Decorah, Iowa. His parents were Nicholas Samuelson and Ardath Conrad.
After high school, he married long time sweetheart Leila Renfrow. The couple celebrated their 68th Wedding Anniversary in September.
He joined the Army in 1944, was sent to the European Theater to fight and served into the German occupation in 1946.
When he returned to peacetime America, Jim and his wife raised two girls in Iowa and in 1956 moved to Columbia Falls, where Jim for many years operated his own custom cabinet making shop. He took his family on many camping trips and waterskiing adventures in the Montana mountains.
The couple moved to Yuma in 1986. During their long retirement James and Leila traveled the U.S., Canada and Mexico by motorcycle and RV. They worked summers at the Grand Canyon, the TV set of Bonanza, the Colorado Rockies and New Mexico campgrounds. In recent years, they spent summers with friends Bill and Bonnie Poser in Conrad.
Jim was a member of the Foothills Southern Baptist Church and the VFW.
He is survived by his widow, Leila of Yuma, Ariz.; two daughters, Terri Lee Gamble and husband Harry of Vancouver, Wash.; Roxana Hessman of Denver, Colo.; and four grandchildren, Erin, Kris, Bryan and Cody.
He was preceded in death by his parents and three brothers.
Jim was known by family and friends as “the can-do man” and was often called on to fix things in his wood working shop in his back yard. He loved a challenge.
Services were held Oct. 13 at Foothills Baptist Church in Yuma, Ariz. Burial will be in Columbia Falls next to his parents at Pinewood Cemetery.