James “Jim” L. Perry, 90, longtime resident of Usk, Wash., passed away on Friday, Jan. 13, 2017. He was admitted to the Mann-Grandstaff Veterans Hospital in Dec. following a stroke and had recently returned home to be surrounded by family and friends. His home was a place of comfort for him, representing years of endless hours rebuilding the structure from the ground up. All this he did in “retirement” using lumber he cut with precision on his Wood-Mizer sawmill from logs harvested on the family acreage.
He was born James Leo Perry on Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 1926, in Miles City, Mont. to J.C. and Iva (Ellenbaum) Perry. His early years were spent on the family ranch north of Baker, Mont. in the Cabin Creek area. “Junior” attended school at Sunny Ridge and then Ollie in Mont. Following his education he served in the U.S. Army during WWII, always proud to have served to preserve the same freedoms we all enjoy today.
On Feb. 14, 1951, Jim married Rose Marie Pratt in Baker, Mont. They were true Valentine sweethearts, painting a picture of what marriage gets to look like, celebrating 65 years long.
Their first years of marriage were spent following the oil field work as a roughneck throughout Montana, Colorado and Wyoming. Settling in Washington, James joined the Boilermakers Union #242 of Spokane. His career as a welder included various hydroelectric dam assignments in the United States and abroad: Grand Coulee, Boundary, Dworshak, Box Canyon, Chief Joseph, Bonneville, John Day, and Mt. Coffee in Liberia. Always a dreamer he worked with the Aluminum Box Factory which ultimately was purchased by the Kalispel Tribe of Indians and is now known as Kalispel Metal Products. It was here that he taught his love of welding to the next generation of students through a trade skill program in partnership with the Cusick School District. His last union job was on the construction of Ponderay Newsprint Company in Usk where the electricity he helped to create earlier in his career was put to use in the local paper industry. Ultimately he remained a welder and “Jack of all Trades” throughout his retirement. Designing, inventing and building anything from 60’ booms, log trailers, bunks, garden sheds, speciality tools, and any and all maintenance and repair projects. He is quoted as saying, “I can fix anything once, maybe twice…” Together in 1963, Jim and Rose settled, raised their family of 6 children, and retired on their home place west of Usk.
In addition to his wife he is survived by all of his children: Janet (Larry) Ulbright of Spokane Valley; Ray (Becky) Perry of Kalispel, Mont.; Mary (Cal) Myers of Spokane; Joseph Perry of Spirit Lake, Idaho; Patti (Mark) Cutshall of Usk; and Natoye Perry (Alister Maxwell) of Spokane.
Surviving siblings include his younger brother Gary Perry and older sister Betty Ure both of Marmarth, N.D.; his eldest sister Dorothy Bummer of Laurel, Mont.; and baby sister Joyce Summers of Queen Valley, Ariz.
Seven grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren: Alisha (Eric) Smith with Skotia, Autumn, Kayana (Kyle) Cross, & Jorgan of Elk; Daniel (Gail) Ulbright with Myleigh & Zoey of Post Falls, ID; Rachel (Brice) Philo with Ian, Tyler & Cody of Baytown, TX; Matthew Perry of Spirit Lake, ID; Alicia (Erik) Elsasser with Ashton & Zachary of Spokane; Jamie (Jack) Clark of Choteau, MT; and John Cutshall of Usk. In addition a great great granddaughter Sequoia Rose Smith, numerous cousins, nieces, and nephews, including Michael (Gloria) Jensen with Kellene, Jacqueline, & Rosalie of Usk.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his brother Lyle Perry; and two sisters Bernice Bruce, and “Pat” Iona Oostdyk.
James has always been a pillar of strength, love, family, and above all faith. He was always there with a helping hand for anyone who needed it. An amazing man, one of a kind! We can think of him as living on in the hearts of those he touched, and believe as he did that his journey has just begun; “We all have a place to go…..that’s just the way it is.” A celebration of life will be planned later this year. Memorial contributions may be made to the scholarship fund at the American Legion Post #217 in Cusick where he was a member.
When days are sad and lonely
And everything goes wrong.
We seem to hear your whisper
Cheer up and Carry on.
Every time we see your picture
You smile and seem to say
Don’t cry, I’m only sleeping
We’ll meet again someday.
You gave no one a last farewell,
Nor ever said good-bye
You were gone before
We knew it
And only God knows why
A million times we will miss you
A million times we will cry
If love alone could
Have saved you
You never would have died.
In life we loved you dearly
In death we love you still
In our hearts you hold a place
No one else can fill
It broke our hearts to lose you
But you didn’t go alone
For part of us went with you
The day God took you home.