Seeley Swan Pathfinder -

James Burton Patterson 1932 ~ 2015

Swan Song


SEELEY LAKE - Jim Patterson, the youngest son of Harry Lucas and Virginia Cowan Patterson, was born Sept. 16, 1932 in his mother's original homestead shack near Freewater, Mont. on the Big Bend of the Milk River.  After spending a few years of his boyhood near Leadore, Idaho, he graduated from high school in Malta, Mont. in 1950 and went to work on the logging crew of Collins Pondosa Lumber Co. in the Wallowa Mountains of northeast Oregon. 

In the fall of 1952 Jim was drafted into the U.S. Army to serve in the Korean War.  He received Advanced Infantry Training at Camp Roberts, Calif .; Engineer Construction training at EtaJima, Japan; and he served 14 months in Korea as Operations Sergeant for the 62nd Engineer Battalion.  He was honorably discharged from active duty Feb. 4, 1955 at Fort Ord, Calif.

 In September 1955, Jim entered the University of Montana to study Forest Engineering on the G.I. Bill, what he called "the Sygman Rhee Scholarship."  In June 1958 he married Miriam Louise Leib, also a student at the University of Montana. They shared the Malta heritage and both had pioneer ancestors in the Malta area.  The marriage was blessed with two children Jane Elizabeth and Kirk Campbell and five grandchildren James, Sarah, Anna, Luke and Benjamin. 

During the summers of his college years, Jim worked in the woods setting chokers, hooking on the log loader, driving skid-cat and falling timber for various logging contractors in western Montana and the Lochsa in Idaho.  He cruised timber in the summer of 1959 for the State of Montana in Sanders County.

 After receiving his Bachelor's Degree in Forest Engineering in 1960, Jim worked as woods scaler for J. Neils Lumber Co. in Libby. From 1962-1966 he was the Forest Engineer and Resident Forester for the Northern Pacific Railway in Seeley Lake. From 1966 to 1968 he was Logging Engineer for Jack Long Logging Company out of Missoula and Seeley Lake. Then from 1969 to 1983 Jim worked for Boise Cascade Corp. in eastern Washington as Logging Engineer, Logging Manager and finally District Timberlands Manager at Inchelium, Kettle Falls, Ford and Loon Lake. From 1988-89 he was Logging Manager for Klukwan Forest Products out of Ninilchik, Alaska. 

In 1991 Jim realized the dream of many foresters --- owning his own forest.  With the financing of Merritt Brothers Lumber Co. of Priest River he purchased 450 acres of forested land near Loon Lake, Wash.  He spent his remaining years practicing forest management on his own tree farm, north of the family home in Deer Park.  He always loved working outside in the forest.

 Jim's interests were wide and varied – genealogy, Scottish history and music, historic airplanes, rocks and the field application of logging machinery.  Because of his very rural childhood, he was experienced with guns from the age of seven and maintained an interest in guns and gun design his whole life.

 Jim's Christian faith and upbringing guided his life and shaped his honorable character.  He was a cradle Episcopalian and friend of Faith Lutheran Church in Deer Park.  He always spoke with pride about being baptized on Christmas Day 1932.  As a young boy he was an acolyte for the Episcopal priest in Malta, driving long distances to serve rural congregations. 

 Jim and Miriam always praised God that their lives were lived in such beautiful places.  Many times he would come home from work and say, "It was absolutely beautiful out there today."

The family would appreciate hearing from friends with memories of his full and interesting life.  Please write to P.O. Box 267, Deer Park, Washington if you wish to share.  A memorial service for Jim was held Saturday, Jan. 9 in Deer Park.


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