James William "Jim" McIlhattan
1934 - 2020
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James "Jim" William McIlhattan

On December 23, 2020, Jim passed away in Helena, MT as a result of congestive heart failure and pneumonia. Jim was 86 years old.

Jim McIlhattan was born in Bozeman, MT on November 8, 1934. He was the oldest child of Katherine Olivia (Bohart) and James Alton McIlhattan. Jim grew up in Bozeman on the McIlhattan Pony Farm. He was a member of the McIlhattan Pony Patrol and a 4H National Champion livestock showman.

He married his high school sweetheart, Carmen Marie Eblen of Belgrade, in 1956.

Jim graduated with Bachelors and Masters degrees in Music Education from Montana State University, Bozeman, MT. Jim served in the Army National Guard.

Jim was a lifelong music teacher and band director. He taught in the public schools of Belgrade, Roundup, Red Lodge and Havre, Montana. He continued his love of teaching and making music by leading the Havre Shriners Oriental Band for many years. Both in public schools and Shriners, Jim's contributions were recognized with national awards.

Jim and Carmen retired on the Missouri River in the Wolf Creek canyon. Jim enjoyed travel, fishing and woodworking. Making sawdust was a favorite pastime.

Jim was preceded in death by his parents, Katherine O. and J. Alton McIlhattan and by his brother, John A. McIlhattan.

Jim is survived by his bride of 64 years, Carmen McIlhattan of Helena, MT, his four children, Nanita (and Charles) Sammons of Conklin, MI, Janet (and Nate) Berry of Las Vegas, NV, Kenneth McIlhattan of Carlinville, IL and Michael McIlhattan of Mt. Vernon, WA, his brothers, Robert (and Sherry) McIlhattan of Bozeman, MT and Skip (and Nancy) McIlhattan of Clyde Park, MT, niece Sarah (and Brett) Mitchell of Bismarck, ND, nephew John R. (and Laura) McIlhattan of Davidson, NC, five grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

No services will be held due to the Covid 19 pandemic.

Memorials may be sent to the Shriners Hospitals for Children - Spokane, 911 W Fifth Ave, Spokane WA 99204.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Great Falls Tribune from Jan. 7 to Jan. 13, 2021.
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Memories & Condolences
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12 entries
January 25, 2021
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Betty Jo Biggs
January 17, 2021
Mr. McIlhattan was a man of infinite patience and good humor. I have fond memories of Mr. McIlhattan enthusiastically waiving his baton while directing my junior high class of budding musicians. My condolences to Carmen and the rest of the family for the loss of such a lovely man.
Karen (Vaughey) Marble
January 12, 2021
Mr. McIlhattan was one of the top three teachers who impacted my life. His kindness, patience and willingness to push when he knew you could do so much more... and it was always fun. Please accept my sincerest condolences for your loss.
Shelley Weiss
January 11, 2021
I had Mr. McIlhattan for band and chorus and have so many wonderful memories. He was a wonderful educator who touched thousands of lives in his lifetime. Thank you to his family for sharing him so generously.
Raenell Hyvonen Johnson
January 11, 2021
He is the reason I went on in music and ended up teaching music my whole career. Thank you and God bless you Mr Mac.
Jerry Arthun
January 11, 2021
Mac was a wonderful music educator. In Red Lodge he taught chorus as well as band. He encouraged participation in district and state music festivals, and I was one of the accompanists for the chorus and for many solos and ensembles when I was in high school. It was so much fun that I'm still doing that today! In Red Lodge, Mac also started a dance band that played, not late 60's music, but big band type music. I was privileged to be the piano player for two years, and we all got paid. Mac would arrange gigs for us not only in Red Lodge, but in all the little towns around the area. We played for proms and for adult dances. He would pack all the equipment and the six of us into his station wagon, and off we would go! I don't think I ever properly appreciated the time and trouble he took to make us successful. For a three-hour gig he had to invest driving time, set-up time, time to pack up, and occasionally, sit around for an extra hour because a particular group "passed the hat" to pay us to play longer! I know all of his students will remember him fondly. To Carmen and the rest of his family, my sincere condolences,
Anne (Columbus) Dobney
January 11, 2021
Jim loved what he did....the students, the music, the teaching....all of which he treated with caring, dedication, and patience! Oh the patience it must have taken, particularly during a student's first year - a first year clarinet so often was like fingernails on a chalkboard. God blessed us with Jim and Carmen. Sincere condolences to Carmen and the rest of the family.
Linda Vaughey
January 10, 2021
I have so many great memories of Mr. Mac and band, pep band trips, music festivals in South Dakota and Canada. He put up with soooo much from all of us. Our band class of 1971 loved him. I’m so sorry for your loss and know the world is better because he was here.
Band student and friend,
Judy Larson Ireland
Judy Larson Ireland
January 10, 2021
Carmen, My deepest condolences on Jim's passing. Words cannot convey my sadness or appreciation for him. The gifts he gave his students are those that cannot be ever taken away. The love and appreciation of music as well as a sense of self discipline. I I were able to be with you, the hug would be able to convey the feelings that words can't. I know your family will be of great comfort for you now.
Ronda Logan
January 10, 2021
Mr. McIhattah taught me how to play trombone. I would ride my 10 speed bicycle to the middle school during the summers for lessons. He would never wear green on saint Patrick’s day. Great memories of a great man!
Joe Ross
January 9, 2021
Carmen and family, we are sorry to read of the loss of Mr. Mac! We extend our sympathies to all of you during this difficult time. There is never a time that we drive through the canyon that I don’t mention you.
Vickie and Chuck Lowen
January 8, 2021
He was a very patient man! He taught me clarinet and I appreciate his time he spent with me. I was not a great student but Mr. McIlHattan always made sure I practiced. Thank you to a memorable educator!
Brenda Belcourt Goulet
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