Jim (James David) Lathrop, 85, was born in Ottumwa, Iowa on May 20, 1929 to James Alvin and Dorothy Ethel (Moore) Lathrop. He passed away peacefully at his home in Fort Sumner, N.M., on Sept. 23, 2014.
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Because of the Depression, Jim's parents moved often. Their medical careers took the family to Washington, Oregon, Oklahoma, and finally, to Spokane, Wash.
Jim is a renowned custom saddle maker. His saddles have traveled as far away as Kuwait. Jim holds a lifetime gold card in the PRCA. In 2008, the Academy of Western Artists awarded Jim the Don King Memorial Saddlemaker Award for lifelong excellence in his craft.
Jim learned his trade by working in saddle shops such as Hamley's, Victor Arios', Porter's, and Capriola's. He eventually opened his own shops in California, Montana, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. It was in Montana where Jim met his wife of 33 years, Mary. During the winters in Montana, Jim worked at various ski resorts including Big Mountain, Snow Bowl, and Bridger Bowl in Bozeman where he served as the Lift Operations Superintendent for 11 years. During the summers, he built saddles in the shop behind his home. After suffering an on-the-job-injury, Jim and Mary moved to New Mexico where he continued to build saddles.
Jim is survived by his wife, Mary; his son, Will and wife, Melissa Lathrop of Poteau, Okla.; daughter, Eileen and husband, Bob Winkle of Wister, Okla.; a beloved passel of grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and many treasured friends he made over the years.
In keeping with Jim's wishes, no services are planned.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to his widow, Mary, at P.O. Box 911, Fort Sumner, NM 88119.
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Oct. 8, 2014