James "Jim" Lee Pruter, 82, a resident of North Pole, passed away as a result of dementia on Feb. 18, 2014, in Fairbanks Memorial Hospital. |
James was born in Natoma, Kan., on Sept. 21, 1931, to the late Carl and Lavern (Brown) Pruter. He spent his childhood at Russell, Kan. He and a buddy joined the U.S. Air Force in 1948, with their parents' signatures as consent.
He was a meteorologist/forecaster in the Air Force. While stationed in Nevada, he met his future wife, Evelyin Gragson. They were married 61 years and had two children, Corinne Montana and Mark Allen, both of Las Vegas.
Choosing not to reenlist in the Air Force, in 1957, he went to work for the National Weather Service as a meteorologist. His first duty station was Fairbanks. So, with his wife, kids and 33-foot mobile home, he headed for Alaska from Del Rio, Texas. After two years in Fairbanks, he was sent to Annette Island for eight years, one year in Kauai, Hawaii, and then to OIC close to the equator at Majuro, Marshall Pacific Trust Territory, for three years.
Jim had a passion for flying, holding multi-engine, land and sea ratings. He flew every chance he had, and while in the Marshall Islands, he had an instrument malfunction and ditched his aircraft at sea. He, with two other men, floated at sea in a raft for three days before being taken aboard a cargo ship on its way to Japan.
From the Marshall Islands, it was on to Nevada, Utah and then Alaska: including St. Paul Island, Bethel and Fairbanks in 1984. With wandering days over, he settled in North Pole. In 1996, Jim retired from the Weather Service with more than 40 years of government service. After retirement, he kept a close watch on the weather: once a weatherman, always a weatherman.
In 1985, Jim was awarded a bronze medal by the Department of Commerce for superior federal service. He always carried that bronze medallion with him and made it into a money clip. He could build anything he set his mind to, from metal or wood. There were always plenty of tools for the job.
Jim was a 32-degree Master Mason and a Shriner. He loved his early morning coffee with "the boys."
He is survived by his wife, Evelyin; daughter, Corinne Montana; son, Mark Allen (Linda) Pruter; four grandchildren, Kristina Worrall, Mark Pruter, Angela Clay and Brian (Julie) Clay.
In addition to his parents, Jim was preceded in death by his stepfather, Floyd Miller; sister, Carla June Stricker, and granddaughter, Erin Marie Hoheisel.
There will be no formal service. The family will hold a private service.
Arrangements are entrusted to Fairbanks Funeral Home.
Published in Daily News-Miner on Mar. 4, 2014