MISSOULA — James (Jim) Church, better known as “Uke” or “Uker”, 75, of Missoula and Clinton, passed away at St. Patrick Hospital on Nov. 5, 2018.
Jim was born on April 28, 1943, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Gordon and Betty Church. After high school he enlisted into the United States Air Force and served for a total of four years. His years of service were something that Jim was always very proud of and you could see a tear come to his eye whenever he heard the National Anthem. After his honorable discharge from the Air Force, he moved to Montana where he met and married Joann Martin and they had a son, Timothy. Some years later he once again found himself in the dating pool when he met Sharon Stensland. They were married and had two children, Lance and Jennifer. Although the marriage ended, Jim and Sharon remained friends and stayed in touch over the years. In 1995, Jim met the love of his life, Nita (Stella) Johnson. They shared a love of softball and both were still playing even though they had each achieved an age when most people had already hung up their gloves. They were married in 2001 and shared 24 years together in Clinton. Their children were all grown when they met but over their years together, they shared and enjoyed grandchildren, pets, grand-dogs, and grand-cats.
Jim was employed at The University of Montana for over 24 years where he worked in groundskeeping and maintenance for the married student housing complex. He performed numerous duties both inside and out in order to keep the complex functioning. He retired from the University in 2004, because it was time, he had earned it, and he was really tired of all the snow plowing.
Jim was an avid sports fan. He played softball for many years and his fellow teammates dubbed him “Uker” because of his resemblance to a famous baseball player and announcer. He watched sports on TV and attended his grandchildren’s sporting events. He has probably forgotten more about college and professional sports than most people have ever known. He also loved hunting, fishing, floating the river, and just being outside in nature. In 2016, he fulfilled one of his bucket list items when he went hiking on Wildhorse Island on Flathead Lake with his grandchildren and was lucky enough to see the wild horses.
He is preceded in death by his son, Timothy, his parents, Gordon and Betty Church, and his loving dog Fang.
Survivors include his wife Nita “Stella”, twin brother Bob (JoAnne) Church of Missoula, children Lance and Jennifer, grandchildren Kylie Marie Church, Austin Tripp, Devan Tripp, and step-daughter Laura (Bill) Tripp.
The Family will have a celebration of life at Poor Henry’s in Clinton on Saturday, December 1 at 2 p.m.