Jim McDermand, 74, left this world on June 13, 2014. He beat the odds by living with prostate cancer that had metastasized to the bone 12 years ago. The cancer was active the entire time, yet he refused to let it stop him until the very end.
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Jim was born on Jan. 19, 1940, to the late Wilson and Florence McDermand and grew up in Conrad. After graduating high school, Jim worked for a couple of years as a sheet metal worker.
He joined the Navy in November 1962 and spent the majority of his enlistment on the aircraft carrier Ticonderoga. He was proud that out of 3,500 enlisted men on the ship, he was named "Sailor of the Month" in September 1965.
After serving his term in the Navy, Jim went to college at MSU-Bozeman where he received his degree in Construction Engineering. That is where he met his wife, Dianne. They were married in September 1970.
He and Dianne moved to Great Falls where Jim worked for A.T. Klemens & Son, an HVAC company. He started as a sheet metal worker and in 15 years moved up the career ladder to become president of the company. He was the sole supporter and provided well for his family. He accomplished this in just 20 years, retiring in 1991.
In 1974, he and Dianne had their only child, Karlee. He was an enthusiastic dad while Karlee grew up, mentoring her in outdoor activities and lessons in business. As an adult, Karlee and Jim became very close friends.
Jim was an accomplished outdoorsman and happily mentored others in hunting, fishing, hiking, canoeing, backpacking and camping. Because of his passion for the outdoors, he was driven to help protect wildlife habitat and preserve access to Montana's public lands and waterways. Jim helped Leroy Beckman, a ranch owner, carry out his wishes to acquire thousands of acres of critical wildlife habitat for all to enjoy forever (now known as the Beckman Wildlife Management Area). Jim also started the Medicine River Canoe club to preserve canoeing for future generations.
He was a key player in the fight to achieve Montana's Stream Access law in 1985. In addition, Jim worked for the Montana Wildlife Federation improving teamwork with the local clubs. Because of his many contributions, he received numerous awards from the Montana Wildlife Federation including the Conservationist of the Year, Special Regional Directors Award and Special Achievement Award. He also received the National Wildlife Federation Conservation Citation Award and the Central Montana BLM-RAC recognition of service, which was presented to him by the Secretary of the Interior.
In 2003, Jim and Dianne moved to Billings to be closer to their daughter. In 2011, Jim became a proud grandfather.
Jim lived a full life and often said he had no regrets. "Life is Good."
He was preceded in death by his parents, Wilson and Florence McDermand.
He is survived by his wife, Dianne McDermand; daughter, Karlee (Kevin) Bentz; granddaughter Teigen Bentz; sister, Lorna (Les) Solberg; sister-in-law, Donna Martin; and nieces, nephews and cousins.
The funeral service will be held on Friday, June 20, 2014 at 2 p.m. at Smith Funeral Chapel West, 304 34th St. W., in Billings. Reception immediately following at the Elks Club
We thank the V.A., Rocky Mountain Hospice, Rocky Mountain Home Care, and Montana Premier Care for all of their kind help and support.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Public Land/Water Access Association; P.O. Box 80987, Billings, MT 59108, plwa.org
Smith Funeral Chapels - West
304 34th Street West
Billings, MT 59101
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on June 15, 2014