James Edward Stermitz of Gardiner, Montana died in his home in Cinnabar Basin on July 16, 2018 surrounded by his family on a beautiful Cinnabar summer night. He was 78 years old. His love for his family and friends and the poetry and message of the Bible gave him peace.
Jim is survived by his wife of 56 years, Lorayne; his children, Sharon (Llane) Carroll of Ekalaka, MT; Kara Stermitz of Livingston, MT; Rob (Stacy) Stermitz of Cinnabar Basin; and his 10 grandchildren: Nathan, Allyson (Jake), Alexandra, Macy, Ladan, Jakim, Bryson, Luke, Tyler, and Joel. He was preceded in death by his parents, Bert and Gladys Stermitz.
Jim was born on November 4, 1939 in Livingston, MT, to Bert and Gladys Elliott Stermitz. Jim attended country school in Cinnabar through grade 5 and then attended school in Gardiner, where he graduated in 1957. Pursuing a life-long love of plants and soils, he earned Bachelor's and Master's degrees from Montana State College. He encountered another love at Montana State - Lorayne Plaggemeyer. They married on September 2, 1962. They welcomed three children: Sharon, Kara, and Rob. Jim and Lorayne ranched in Cinnabar Basin for 56 years. In 1977 Jim added teaching to his pursuits; he taught Science, Math, and Computer Programming at Gardiner Public Schools. Jim rose early in the morning to do chores and feed cows on the ranch before heading to teach in Gardiner. He patiently waited for his kids to finish basketball or track practice before heading back to Cinnabar to finish his day by preparing lesson plans, grading papers, and taking care of ranch business. He enjoyed showing and telling students about the geological formations in the Upper Yellowstone. His daughter remembers him giving his physics class a lively demonstration of centripetal force using a piano stool from home.
For many years, Jim was an active ham radio operator. WA7AZN checked in early mornings with his fellow ham radio friends from around the country.
Jim and Lorayne fostered a love for the land and the importance of stewardship - among their children and grandchildren's studies and hobbies are botany, geology, ranching, teaching, hiking, and fishing- all pursuits of Jim’s at one point in his life. In his early years, Jim loved hiking with his buddies, especially to mountain lakes to fish. He shared his knowledge of range management and plant identification as a 4-H leader with the Dome Mountain 4-H Club.
Jim liked to write. Many of us enjoyed Jim’s sense of humor evident in his poetry. He also penned a few books on Cinnabar and Stermitz history. As a past president and ardent supporter of the Park County Pioneer Society, Jim was proud of the part his family and friends played in the history of the county.
A highlight of Jim's later years was the celebration of his 50th college reunion from Montana State the day his oldest grandson graduated from Montana State University. His grandsons: Nathan, Ladan, and Bryson are 4th generation Bobcats.
His children had the privilege of hearing him play polkas on the accordion and of hearing him sing the occasional Slovenian verse. His children and grandchildren enjoy music- whether it's humming a tune or playing the piano, guitar, or fiddle, Jim knows there's a polka in there somewhere.
The family would like to extend a special thanks to Park County Hospice and to those who stopped by or called while Jim was in Cinnabar. Your presence and your kind words carried Jim home.
A memorial funeral service will be held at 11 a.m., Monday, July 23, 2018 at Gardiner High School in the Multi-Purpose Room, a reception will follow, also in the Multi-Purpose Room. Condolences may be sent to: 488 Cinnabar Basin Road, Gardiner, MT 59030. Memorials may be sent to the Gardiner Community Scholarship Fund, 510 West Stone Street, or the Gardiner Emergency Services Fund, PO Box 307, both Gardiner, MT 59030.
Arrangements are under the care of Franzen-Davis Funeral Home and Crematory.