Monday, August 17, 2009

Obituary for my Dear Uncle Jim Williamson

A memorial service conducted by family and friends is scheduled for 2 p.m. Wednesday, August 19th, at the First United Methodist Church in Portales to celebrate the life of Jim Williamson, 96, a Roosevelt County pioneer and rancher who died Wednesday at Roosevelt General Hospital. Following the service there will be a reception and time for visiting in the fellowship hall at the church.
Jim was born October 18, 1912, in Pecos, TX, to Asa Lee and Lucy Betty Hunt Williamson. At the age of three, he came with his family via covered wagon to a homestead in the sandhills of south Roosevelt County, joining other family members who were in the area.
Jim spent three years in England during World War II working as an aircraft mechanic with the Army Air Corps. Except for that time and his early childhood in Pecos, he lived all of his life within a few miles of the original family homestead in south Roosevelt County.
On November 26, 1957, in Cleveland, Ohio, he married Nancy Godwin with whom he shared his life for nearly 52 years. They honeymooned their way back to New Mexico as only Jim would, visiting the stockyards in Chicago and Kansas City along the way.
Although Jim's family farmed early on, it was raising and feeding cattle that became his true passion. He devoted his life to learning all he could about the cattle business. Besides doing everything he could to continually improve his herd and his ranch, he loved buying cattle from all across the southeastern United States to commercially feed.
He was a natural born salesman, and for several years in the early 1960s, he helped set up aerial spraying for brush control with ranches all over southeastern New Mexico.
Jim and Nancy had three children, and he was a devoted and involved father, driving countless miles to attend rodeos, ball games and academic events. The year he turned 83, he was thrilled to gain two granddaughters within seven months of each other.
Being involved in the community was very important to Jim. He was a longtime active member of the Portales Rotary Club and the Masonic Lodge, and served on the Roosevelt County Fair Board, the Roosevelt County Soil and Water Conservation District Board and the Dora School Board of Education for many years. In addition, he and Nancy enjoyed many years of light-hearted travel with the Conestoga Good Sam Club in Portales.
He had a special fondness for Mexico, having spent considerable time as a young man visiting a favorite uncle who ranched there. Many family vacations were spent in Mexico over the years, and he was proud to be one of the people who helped the Portales Rotary Club set up a sister-club relationship with the Rotary Club in Delicias, Chihuahua, many years ago. He cherished his Mexican friends on both sides of the border.
Throughout his life, Jim enjoyed dancing, rare steaks, the "House Special," and the chance to sit and tell stories and laugh. He loved being in the midst of social gatherings of friends and family members. His Fourth of July sandhill picnics were legendary for more than 40 years. Many people, both locally and from around the country, remember being taken by Jim over bouncing roads at dawn to watch the prairie chickens booming in the spring, then coming back to the house for a big breakfast cooked over an open fire in the yard.
He was a lifelong avid reader. As his vision blurred, he turned to books on tape through the New Mexico Library for the Blind and had listened to more than 900 books in the last few years.
Jim was preceded in death by his parents, his sisters, Jo Harvey and Katie Littlefield, and his brother, Jack Williamson. He is survived by his wife, Nancy, of the family home; two sons and daughters-in-law, Stewart and Toni Williamson of Portales, and Gary and Christine Williamson of Reno, NV; a daughter and son-in-law, Betty Williamson and Milz Bickley of Pep; two beloved granddaughters, Chloe Williamson of Reno, NV, and Katie Bickley of Pep; numerous nieces and nephews and a host of wonderful friends.
Because of Jim's lifelong love of learning and education and ranching, and his belief that good causes should be financially supported, in lieu of flowers the family suggests memorial contributions may be made to any of the following (or the cause of your choice): The New Mexico Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (Friends of the NMLBH, 1209 Camino Carlos Rey, Santa Fe, NM 87507); the Portales Public Library (218 South Avenue B, Portales, NM 88130); the Eastern New Mexico University Foundation (1500 South Avenue K, Station #8, Portales, NM 88130); or the Ranching Heritage Association (P.O. Box 43201, Lubbock, TX 79409).
Arrangements are by Wheeler Mortuary of Portales, 575-356-4455. Published in Clovis News Journal and the Portales News-Tribune from August 16 to August 17, 2009
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