James Henry "Jim" Sillman
1949 - 2021
BORN
1949
DIED
2021

James 'Jim' Henry Sillman

James "Jim" Henry Sillman was born Feb. 25, 1949, to William "Bill" and Elizabeth Sillman in Winona. He was a member and alter boy of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Winona, and he was an Eagle Scout.

Upon graduating from Winona High School in 1967, Jim enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corp. After basic training, he attended electronics school in San Diego, and cable systems technician school at Sheppard AFB, Texas. Jim deployed as a Field Radio Operator within infantry units and served two combat tours in Vietnam. SGT Sillman received an honorable discharge Nov. 11, 1971.

Jim returned to his hometown after his military service where he attended Winona State University while working full time and supporting a growing family. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in business and economics.

In May 1977, Jim again answered the call to active duty when he became a Submarine Supply Corp Officer in the U.S. Navy. Jim was commissioned as an Ensign after graduating the Officer Candidate School in Newport, R.I. He subsequently completed the Navy Supply Corps School in Athens, Ga., and the Naval Submarine School training in Groton, Conn., earning his Dolphins.

Jim served two tours in Holy Loch, Scotland - a country he forever remembered for its natural beauty and its most famous export. Jim was also ordered to Charleston, S.C.; Norfolk, Va.; and Pascagoula, Miss., where he maintained oversight for Naval ship and submarine repair and new project shipbuilding.

His final sea duty assignment was aboard the USS La Salle (AFG-3) in support of Operation Desert Storm. During this deployment the ship assumed the responsibility of commanding and coordinating the multinational Maritime Intercept Force.

Jim twice militarily served his Country with distinction. Once a Marine, always a Marine; he forever remained proud of his service. He seldom spoke of his wartime experiences. Among the many personal and unit meritorious citations earned for sustained excellence, Jim was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal and the Navy Achievement Medal w/V; reserved for those individuals who clearly exceed expectations while exposed to personal hazard due to direct hostile action. LCDR Sillman retired from the U.S. Navy March 1, 1993, after serving his last tour of duty in Arlington, Va.

In his "retirement," Jim once again served his nation for over two decades as a civilian contractor, supporting shipbuilding projects under the Naval Sea Systems Command. When Jim was thanked for his 45 years of service to our country, which included multiple relocations and deployments away from his family, Jim humbly replied that many more military and civilian government personnel had made the ultimate sacrifice.

An avid reader and history buff, Jim enjoyed model building, visiting historical sites, and researching his family's genealogy. Through his research he was able to connect with distant relatives and share family history.

James Henry Sillman devoted his life to his God, Country, and family. He passed away Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021.

He is survived by his bride of 30 years, Diane (White) Sillman; his children, Joshua (Lizel) Sillman, Jennifer Sillman (Roger) Bates, Jeffrey (Marla) Sillman, and Hannah Sillman; 11 grandchildren; one great-grandchild; brother, Fred Sillman; sister, Mary Sillman (Mark) Hunn; cousin, Laurie Holley; and beloved pets, Mia and Molly. He was preceded in death by his parents, William "Bill" Theodore Sillman, Mary Elizabeth (James) Sillman; and brother, William "Bill" Theodore Sillman II.

Interment will be with full military honors at the Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis.



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Published by Winona Daily News on Mar. 7, 2021.
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34 Entries
To all those who have left messages in remembrance of my dad, thank you so much. My family has been reading them, and they bring us much comfort during this most difficult of times. Thank you so very much.
Jennifer Sillman Bates
March 12, 2021
I grew up with Jim in Winona on good old Mark Street. For over 65 we were good friends. I enjoyed his visits back here and sharing the "remember when"? He was a stand up man, always. My prayers and sympathies to his family. God be with you till we meet again, my friend.
Kathy Guenther Boone
March 9, 2021
Diane, Hannah and family, We are so sorry! Please be sure of our thoughts and prayers! It was always so evident to us that Jim loved his family above all things!
Mary Jo Baldus and Judy Schaefer
March 8, 2021
I met Jim when we were both working at NAVSEA supporting ship building programs. We were both surprised to discover we both grew up in Winona. We spent some amount of time discussing the many things that make Winona such a good town. A few years went by and he announced to me with a smile on his face that he was moving back to Winona. He was a true professional that proudly and happily served his country. I saw first hand what a great guy he was and how everyone responded to him. Fair winds and a following sea my friend.
David Davies
March 8, 2021
Mr. Sillman always had a smile and couple of laughs for you. He reminded me of my own father with his storytelling. I first met him as an 8th grader playing baseball with Jeff. As we played sports together through high school Mr. Sillman was always around, cheering on his son and everyone else. Even after Jeff graduated Mr. Sillman videotaped games for the football team. He was the type of person who made the entire community a better place. I will always remember him as a proud father, a humble patriot and a friendly presence. He is gone too soon.
Phil Creed
March 8, 2021
Jim served his county and his family with honor. He had been very sick for the past 3 months and now is at peace. Condolences to his wife, Diane and his children, Josh, Jenny, Jeff and Hannah for their loss. I know how much each of you will miss him.
Therese Wagner
March 8, 2021
We served together on the USS George C. Marshall, and caught up at the 2012 reunion. "Chop" was one of the calmest individuals I ever met; nothing ever phased him. He used to say, how hard can submarine life be after being shot at in Viet Nam? He was also a great listener to all the junior enlisted. Jim, I'll miss you. Fair winds and following seas, shipmate.
Guy Yeakley
Military
March 8, 2021
I did not know James but as a fellow submariner and a person who grew up in Winona, I want to send my condolences to the family. We in the submarine force are a small group and a tight-knit family. You are in our hearts and prayers.
Connor Brosnahan
March 8, 2021
I have many treasured memories from the years raising our children together. Jim's spirit lives on in them. He left us all too soon. May a new life be upon you Jim, a gentle and good man. Sending sympathy to all his family.
Diane Sillman
March 7, 2021
Jenny Sillman Bates
March 7, 2021
Jenny Sillman Bates
March 7, 2021
Jenny Sillman Bates
March 7, 2021
Jenny Sillman Bates
March 7, 2021
Jenny Sillman Bates
March 7, 2021
Jenny Sillman Bates
March 7, 2021
Jenny Sillman Bates
March 7, 2021
Adding some extra photos that dad had placed on Ancestry.com. He and I loved genealogy and family history. He found great happiness in creating family trees.
Jenny Sillman Bates
March 7, 2021
Love, Your Jenny
March 7, 2021
Jenny Sillman Bates
March 7, 2021
Jenny Sillman Bates
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Jenny Sillman Bates
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Jenny Sillman Bates
March 7, 2021
Jenny Sillman Bates
March 7, 2021
Jenny Sillman Bates
March 7, 2021
Jenny Sillman Bates
March 7, 2021
Jenny Sillman Bates
March 7, 2021
Jenny Sillman Bates
March 7, 2021
Jenny Sillman Bates
March 7, 2021
Jenny Sillman Bates
March 7, 2021
Jenny Sillman Bates
March 7, 2021
Jenny Sillman Bates
March 7, 2021
Jenny Sillman Bates
March 7, 2021
Jenny Sillman Bates
March 7, 2021
I have often thought that I was one of the luckiest girls alive.....because my dad was my dad. I will miss him tremendously. He loved our hometown of Winona and loved that he was able to grow up there with such great parents and siblings.
Jenny Sillman Bates
March 7, 2021