A private memorial service and interment of his ashes will be held at the Tonto Basin, Ariz. Cemetery, September 26. Memorials may be made to the Tonto Basin Fire District, P.O. Box 48, Tonto Basin, AZ 85553.
Jim was born to Everett and Alice (Mangels) Watts September 11, 1946 in Wolf Point. He was the oldest of four children. They resided in Oswego and Glasgow before moving to Malta in 1961 where he graduated from high school in 1964. No one was safe when he was around; he was always stirring the pot to keep everyone on their toes.
Jim attended Northern Montana College and graduated with a BS in History and Social Science. His student teaching was completed in Harlem in 1969.
The army beckoned him in 1969 and he served in the Republic of South Vietnam for 15 months as Fire Direction Controller/Operator Assistant/Draftsman Map. He earned the National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, and the Bronze Star Medal while assigned with the First Air Cavalry Division.
He married Rose Ann (Janie) Webb August 26, 1972. They moved to Bozeman so he could go back to school at Montana State University. He earned a Masters in Secondary Education. After graduating, he served as the High School Principal/Counselor/History Teacher in Joplin from 1975-78 and High School Principal/Athletic Director in Noxon from 1978 until he retired in 1998. In 2000 they moved to Tulelake, Calif. and in 2012 moved to Tonto Basin, Ariz. where he resided until his death.
Jim enjoyed anything to do with guns and history. He especially enjoyed showing his Sharps rifles and sharing the history of these guns and always had a tale specific to each of his rifles. He enjoyed working on old cars with the final restoration being his 1937 Ford truck that he purchased from Billy Tapp in 1962. Jim valued education and inspired many to continue their education beyond high school. Above all, Jim was an excellent story teller and could turn any event into a hilarious tale for all.
He is survived by his wife, Janie; brother, Don; sisters, Sheila (Tim) Heine and Sandy (Garth) Owens; a special granddaughter, Hospital Corpsman Krista Marriage (of whom he was very proud); special nieces Stephanie Manley, Dawn Dobson and Pat Osorio; special nephews Scott Owens, Todd Marriage, Mike and Chuck Webb, as well as numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.
Jim was preceded in death by his parents and his grandparents, Joseph and Mary Watts and Martin and Lucy Mangels. He was an inspiration to many and loved by many more.