James (Jim) W. Bell died on July 18th at Edgewood Vista Memory Care in Billings, MT, surrounded by his loving family. Our family expresses our deepest gratitude to the caregivers at Edgewood Vista and Stillwater Hospice for providing loving care for our dad during his last days. Jim was born at Port’s Place, Wild Horse Creek near Arvada, WY on May 15th, 1933, to James Pounden Dawson Bell and Rachel Ella (Sanders) Bell. Jim was the 4th of five children. Jim’s father was an Irish immigrant who became a U.S. citizen.
Jim grew up on ranches in the Arvada, WY area where he attended school and played basketball and hung out with a best friend, Fred Dabney. Jim loved his horses Daisy and Chief. As a child, his favorite toys were trucks, tractors, and dirt moving tools. Most of his early working years were in the road construction, sawmill, and logging industries.
Jim married Faye Virginia Moses on September 7th, 1952 in Worland, WY. To this union were born three daughters, Colleen and Sheila (twins) and Gina. Jim and Faye enjoyed singing, getting together with family, drives up the Ten Sleep canyon, and dancing around the kitchen. Jim and Faye lived in many places in Wyoming while Jim worked construction – Ten Sleep, Buffalo, Sheridan, Dubois, Gillette, and Laramie. They also spent a season in Sweet Home, OR while Jim worked for a sawmill. Jim started his own construction company, J.W. Bell Construction in 1965. Jim worked on many road construction projects in the Ten Sleep, Worland, Buffalo, Sheridan, Rawlins, and Moorcroft, WY areas. He enjoyed telling his grandkids as they were travelling, “I worked on this stretch of road right here”. Jim also worked as a reserve deputy for Washakie County, working as a special guard in 2 murder cases under Jim Black. Jim and Faye later divorced.
Jim married Beverly Ann (Popp) Rank on March 20th, 1971 in Buffalo, WY. To this union was born a daughter, Heather. Jim and Bev enjoyed camping, and exploring the countryside by car, and searching for good restaurants. They lived in Wyoming and Idaho. Jim and Bev owned three restaurants together – the Husky Café and A&W in Buffalo, WY, and the Kendrick Drive Inn in Kendrick, ID. During their marriage, Jim worked for the county road department in Latah County, ID and Ameco Mining Co. in Challis, ID.
After suffering a back injury at the mine, Jim, Bev, and Heather moved to Sheridan, WY and Jim attended Barber school in Billings, MT. After graduating from barber school in 1987, he bought the White Swan Barbershop in partnership with Ronald W. Charlson in Sheridan. Jim and Bev divorced during this time. He later sold out and purchased the Circle C Barbershop in Casper, WY and worked as a barber there for 13 years.
After retiring in 2001, Jim moved to Custer, MT and spent his summers working as a campground host for Gallatin Canyon Campgrounds until 2017. Jim was a host at several campgrounds in the Beartooth and Big Horn mountains including Shell Creek, Parkside, Basin, Rattin, and Woodbine campgrounds. His fondest times were camping and fishing with his grandkids and just enjoying the mountains. Jim made many friends at the campgrounds and was known for his work ethic and hospitality. Jim felt he was closest to our Creator in the mountains.
Jim’s hobbies centered around his family. Family camping, fishing, rockhounding, horseback riding, looking at the constellations, playing board games, and singing around the campfire. Jim took time in his later years of life to just “enjoy the good life”. Jim never missed a moment to tell his family that he loved them. He would always say, “tell them you love them, just in case tomorrow never comes”.
Jim was preceded in death by his parents, a brother Bill Bell, a sister Dorothy (Bell) Arnold, a sister Barbara Bell, a granddaughter Brittany (Pace) Hanson and a son-in-law Jamie LeBrun. He is survived by his sister Nancy Moses of Sheridan, WY, his daughters Colleen (Wally) Sessions of Saratoga Springs, UT and their children Sabrina, Andy, Patrick, Lexi, and Darcy, Sheila (Joel) Madsen of South Jordan, UT and their children Jason, Laura, Hyrum, and Rachel, Gina (Jerry) Pace of Hurricane, UT and their children Jeremy, Adam, Trevor, Ali, Caleb, Trent, Sadie, McCall, Ethan, and Mason, and Heather (Mike) Beddes of Shepherd, MT, and their children Tyler, Tristen and Traden, 44 great grandchildren, and 1 great-great grandchild.
A celebration of life will be held at Woodbine campground at 3:00 pm on Wednesday, July 29th. The family asks all family and friends to come to the mountains or as he called it, “God’s Country” and share memories of Jim. Light refreshments will follow.
A private interment will be at Rosebud Cemetery near Absarokee, MT.