Jim Cearley, a young 80, passed away unexpectedly Oct. 10, 2021. He was born to James and Hazel Cearley in Morton, Washington, on July 6, 1941. After the passing of his father, Hazel married Pat McGillvray and they relocated to Avon, Montana.
Jim and his sister Eleanor attended Powell County High School, where Jim met his future wife, Lois Gilbert. The two had just celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary on Aug. 14, 2021.
Jim served in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Snohomish County (LST). After his service, he returned to Montana and worked in the Luke Mine. He then worked 17 years for the Mount Powell Service station, followed by 23 years at the Montana Department of Transportation where he eventually retired as the shop superintendent in Butte, Montana.
Upon retiring, Jim and Lois moved to Seeley Lake, where they were residing at the time of his death. He was a member of the Seeley Lake Lions Club and was a chairman on the wood committee. Jim spent many hours cutting, splitting and delivery cords of wood to assist those who needed help with winter heat.
In fact, if anyone needed help, Jim was always willing and ready to give a hand in any way he could — especially for his children and grandchildren. He would receive calls from hundreds of miles away asking, “What do you think is wrong? Listen to this, Papa.” Many times, he would diagnose the problem and get them on their way.
He not only helped with vehicles but was a jack of all trades helping with many, many projects. His helping hand also extended to the Seeley Lake Senior Center, unloading trucks, assisting with the annual bazaar, hunters’ breakfast and any other projects that came along. Jim loved the outdoors whether he was boating, fishing, skiing (in his younger days), snowmobiling or, most recently, his new hobby of four wheeling in his tracker.
Jim is survived by his wife Lois; daughters Joni Pauly (Ed), Lindi Ryan (Joe), Eileen Asbury (Rob) and Patti Bignell (Joe); and son Jim Cearley, III (Nancy). He is also survived by his grandchildren Michael Cearley (Brandy), Angelena Pauly, Christopher Pauly (Olivia), Erin Ryan, Patrick Ryan (Sarah), Jessica Versaw (Ryan), Julie Asbury, Parker Bignell (Donica), Nate Bignell, Maclane Bignell, Frankie Bignell, Brannon Cearley and Colin Cearley; his four great-grandchildren Ada Versaw, Anika and Laken Bignell and Brooks Ryan; his sister Eleanor Price (Jack); brothers John McGillvray (Debra), Tom McGillvray (Margaret) and Dan McGillvray (Aileen); as well as many aunts, nieces, nephews, cousins and special friends. Jim was extremely close to his brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law.
He was preceded in death by his granddaughter Taylor Cearley; parents Jim Cearley, Sr., Pat and Hazel McGillvray; and parents-in-law Clifford and Marie Gilbert.
Services will be held Oct. 23 at 2 p.m. at the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Deer Lodge. Interment at the Hillcrest Cemetery will be followed by a reception at the Deer Lodge Elks hall. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Seeley Lake Lions Club (P.O. Box 215, Seeley Lake, Montana, 59868), the Helmville Quick Response Unit, or donor’s choice.