James Vaughn Willson

Norma and Jim Willson, 1959
Norma and Jim Willson, 1959

Photo courtesy of the Joshua Brackett Eagle Scout Project
Photo courtesy of the Joshua Brackett Eagle Scout Project

(July 26, 1931 - March 16, 2001)

The Lusk Herald
March, 2001

James Vaughn Willson

James Vaughn Willson, age 69, of Lusk, passed away on Friday morning, March 16, 2001 in Torrington.

He was born in Douglas Hospital, Douglas, on July 26, 1931, to Eugene P. and Marie V. Willson. His early years were spent on the Harney Creek homestead ranch of his parents, north of Keeline.

The family moved to the Manville Ranch in 1934, where they lived for two years before moving to the Running Water Ranch in 1936, where he would spend the next fifty years.

Jim attended Lusk schools until his graduation from Niobrara County High School in 1951. He enjoyed participating in music and sports. Jim furthered his education at the University of Wyoming, where he served as president of Farmhouse Fraternity during his sophomore year.

Jim's passions in life were his family, church, music, and his ability to solve problems, mechanical and otherwise. Jim first met Norma Jean Konrath in Lusk, where she was teaching elementary school and they married at St. Patrick's Church in Chadron, Neb., in 1959. Jim moved the homestead house from Harney Creek onto the ranch in 1961. There they raised their four children; Brad, Tim, Chris and Rusty.

Jim's faith was quiet and deep as he was able to teach all those around him by way of example. Jim's love of music was contagious. Everyone around him came to appreciate music as an integral part of their lives. Jim passed along his baritone horn to any of his kids that wished to explore. Jim started his singing career in high school and continued until April 2000. Jim was an active member of the Congregational Church from 1939 on, where he sang in the choir and served as a trustee, Deacon, Moderator, and handyman. Jim was Vice Moderator of the Inter-Mountain Conference in 1973 and was elected first Moderator of the Rocky Mountain Conference in 1974. He served on the pastoral search committee to select the Conference minister in 1976.

Jim was truly a teacher in his own right, guiding community children through his 4-H activities and leadership. He served as club leader, project leader, livestock judge and sponsored the Herdsman Award at the county fair for several years. He loved to learn and constantly sought new knowledge. Jim applied his gifts to fixing clocks, appliances, bruised knees, and egos. He taught fairness, compassion, integrity, and love through his demeanor and his ever present wry smile. The man could not keep a secret behind his grin.

He was preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by wife, Norma, his children Brad of Seattle, Wash., Tim of Cheyenne, Chris and husband, Dan Redja of Lusk, and Rusty and his wife Jennifer of Custer, S.D., and six grandchildren. His surviving brother and sisters are Mary Jean Wilson of Sundance, George Willson of Loveland, Colo. Phyllis Hahn of Lusk, and June Willson Reed of Greensboro, N.C. and numerous nieces and nephews.

A memorial service was held at the Congregational Church of Lusk at 2 p.m. on Monday, March 19, 2001 with Reverend Don Chanslor officiating. Memorial donations can be designated to the Congregational Church and the Lusk Ambulance Service.

Cicmanec-Pier Funeral Home in Lusk is in charge of the funeral arrangements.

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Mary Frances Willson (July 1, 1905 - August 4, 2006)

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