James Douglas Brown


March 28, 2024

Jim Brown

James Douglas Brown passed away peacefully on March 17, 2024, at his home in Whitepine surrounded by his family. He was born May 1, 1943, in Billings, Montana, to Emily (McDonald) and Raymond Brown.

The family lived on a ranch outside Molt, Montana, and Jim went to a one-room schoolhouse in Molt until he graduated the eighth grade. He attended high school in Laurel for one year until he moved to Sanders County with his mother, near where his grandparents lived. Jim attended high school in Dixon and Plains before joining the Air Force during his junior year.

In the Air Force, Jim went to Texas for schooling and worked as a diesel generator operator for power plants. He ended up in Alaska at a remote site at McGrath Air Force Base. He served at a base in Minot for the remainder of his enlistment.

In North Dakota, Jim met Vivian "Vickie" Hedman. They married in 1962 and moved to Missoula while she was finishing college. There Jim worked at a plywood plant, but his dream was always to own a ranch.

Jim and Vickie began searching for a ranch in Northwest Montana and found their spot in Whitepine in 1968. Jim's mother gave him 10 cows to start his ranch and the Browns' Keystone Herefords herd grew from there.

The Keystone Hereford cattle descended from Jim's mother's family's herd, back to his great grandfather, Charles Faulhaber, who had the first registered horned Herefords in the western half of Nebraska. Jim maintained the original bloodline with the cows and would carefully research genetics to find bulls with which to breed.

Jim worked as a rancher and a logger while Vickie taught in Thompson Falls and Trout Creek. Jim and Vickie had two sons, Jason, born in 1972, and Shane, born in 1974. Vickie passed away in 1976 and Jim married Gail Casey on December 10, 1977. Jim and Gail raised their four kids as a family unit, and he loved his extended family. They were married for 46 and a half years, ranching together with their children.

Jim belonged to the Montana Hereford Association for many years. He served on the board, showed cattle and helped put on the Missoula Top Cut Hereford Show and Sale for a number of years. Jim was passionate about Herefords and proud of the origins of his herd having descended from his family's cattle. He showed bulls in Montana and throughout the Northwest, winning several awards. Jim loved to ranch and watch over his Herefords, with the herd growing to 140 head at one time. Jim was always a good neighbor, helping with cattle, farming or plowing snow.

Jim's love of fishing started in the 1990s when he would travel to western Washington fishing for kings, silvers and sturgeon. He loved fishing with his family and buddies, and one of the most memorable trips was with his son-in-law Josh fishing during the salmon run on the Quilcene River. He and his brother Bob spent hours talking about family history and solving the world's problems. Before the pandemic, Jim and Bob made a trip to Nebraska and visited the original Faulhaber ranch site. That trip meant a lot to Jim, getting the opportunity to talk with neighbors who remembered the family.

He loved getting together with family for a meal and visiting with people at the Sanders County Fair. The only time he missed the Sanders County Fair was his years in the service when he was in Alaska. He loved watching his grandkids, whether singing on stage, in sports, 4-H or lawn mower races.

Jim served on the board of the Whitepine Cemetery for 32 years. With all the technology available in the world, Jim refused to have a cellphone or even answer one that was ringing.

Jim was preceded in death by his parents, Emily and Raymond, stepfather Bud Cole, wife Vickie, brother Richard (Dick) Brown; and son-in-law Josh Stewart.

He is survived by his wife of 46 years, Gail, of Whitepine; son Jason (Jenna) of Thompson Falls; son Shane (Sherry) of Whitepine; daughter Denise (Gary) Vogel of Helena; daughter Casandra (Brad) Carlson of Belgrade; brother Bob (Bonnie) of Park City, Montana; grandchildren Ethan and Elsie Brown; Aryka, Travis and Logan Grove; Ashby (Chanel Olson) and Austin (Kendra) Stewart, Amanda Stewart (Nic) Patti, Nikolai and Natalie Carlson; Sammy Wadley, Skye (Jimmy) Foster and Josh Ekberg; great-grandchildren Chanda, Emily, Freyja, Augie, Jaxson, Weston, Carter, Quinton, Jocelyn and Sasha; and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews

and friends who were like family.

Jim was a rancher to the end. When he was in the hospital just a week before he passed, he was on the phone from his hospital bed checking on fertilizer prices. A memorial service was held March 23, 2024, at Thompson Falls Christian Church, with burial at Whitepine Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations in Jim's honor be made to Sanders County Coalition for Families.

This rancher is being laid to rest with his boots on in his own piece of land.


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