James F. ‘Jim’ Held

Tuesday, July 6, 2021
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James F. “Jim” Held, 89, of Clyde Park, MT, passed away on Saturday, July 3, 2021. Jim was born Sept. 8, 1931, in Livingston, to Edward and Olga (Larson) Held. He joined an older sister, Dorothy, and later a brother, Jack. His early life was spent in the Paradise Valley in the Mill Creek area. In 1946, the family bought their own place and moved to Clyde Park where Jim graduated in 1949.

In 1949, Jim and Dick Hoff started a trip “back East” in Jim’s 1936 Ford with all of $300 between them. Chet Barrow, who owned the Conoco Station in Clyde Park, insisted they take his credit card just in case they went broke. When they got back home they had covered 8,000 miles and had $5 left.

On June 24, 1951, Jim and Wilma Lundvall were married in Livingston. Jim worked on a few ranches and for the NP Railroad. In October, 1951, Jim and six other local boys joined the Air Force together. He went to San Antonio for Basic Training, followed by Amarillo where he attended one of the first all-jet maintenance schools in the Air Force. In 1952, daughter Karen Ann was born. In 1953 Jim got orders to K14 Kimpo AB in South Korea. Wilma and Karen returned to Clyde Park where Richard James was born in 1954. In April, 1955 Jim was stationed at Nellis AFB in Las Vegas where he completed his four-year requirement and was discharged as a Staff Sergeant.

Jim got a job working on a ranch in Paradise Valley. Times were tough for a young family, and his friend Dick Hoff encouraged him to re-enlist. At that time, if you re-enlisted before 90 days you got your base of choice and kept your rank. On day 89, Jim re-upped and never looked back. He was stationed at Malmstrom AFB in Great Falls where daughter Katherine Ione was born in 1956. In 1957 Jim was reassigned to Ellsworth AFB near Rapid City, South Dakota, where he was a crew chief on the brand new B52D model airplane. In 1959, their son William Douglas was born.

In 1967 Jim got orders for Tan Son Nhut AB, Vietnam. During the Tet Offensive, the air base was under attack for days. Jim was awarded the Bronze Star for his outstanding leadership and devotion to duty while under fire. After Vietnam, Jim was assigned to Bitburg, Germany, where the family lived for three and half years. While in Germany, the family traveled extensively, from the Arctic Circle to Southern Italy.

In 1972, after 21 years, Jim retired from the Air Force as a Chief Master Sergeant and moved back to Clyde Park. He bought the family ranch and went back to work for the railroad. Jim became very active in the Clyde Park community and the American Legion. He was a proud lifetime member of the Air Force Sergeants Association. After his “real” retirement, Jim and Wilma spent many years RVing and cruising with Jim’s brother and sister-in-law Jack and Delores, often joined by many other family members. For over 23 years, they snowbirded in Wellton, Arizona, where their circle of friends grew even larger. Jim had been on six continents, 30+ countries, and all 50 states. He never tired of traveling to different places and experiencing other cultures. Jim loved spending time with family and friends around the campfire.

Jim was preceded in death by his parents, Ed and Olga, sister Dorothy and husband Bob Youngberg, brother Jack and wife Dolores, sister-in-law Dorothy Marro and husband Jerry, brother-in-law Tom Cassidy, daughter Karen and husband Danny, daughter Kathy and husband Russell, and granddaughter Heidi.

He is survived by his wife of 70 years, Wilma; son Rick, wife Lisa, and son Bill. He is also survived by nine grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren, and 7 great-great grandchildren.

Visitation will take place one hour prior to the funeral service, which will be held on Thursday, July 8, 2021, 11 a.m. at Franzen-Davis Funeral Home, 118 North 3rd Street, Livingston. Burial will follow at Clyde Park Cemetery, followed by a reception at the Clyde Park Community Center. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the American Legion, Park Post #23, 112 N. B St., Livingston, MT 59047. Franzen-Davis Funeral Home has been entrusted with arrangements. To view the tribute page or leave condolences, visit: www.franzen-davis.com.

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