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James 'Jim' Greytak, 74

| February 25, 2024 12:00 AM

James “Jim” Greytak, 74, was born on Aug. 17, 1949, in Kalispell, to Philip and Rosemary Greytak of Bigfork (formerly of Havre). He joined his older sister, Marilyn and was soon followed by sister, Joyce. As a youngster, he would grab his .22, leave the house first thing in the morning and not return until evening. As adults, the three siblings would reminisce about their many adventures, including Marilyn directing Joyce as Sadie Cedarweed and her horse Sagebrush and Jim as Genevieve the Monkey. The three siblings would make the entire family laugh so hard there would be tears.

Jim graduated from Bigfork High School in 1967, and attended Carroll College (Go Saints!), graduating with a degree in history in 1971. He worked at the U.S. Forest Service through college and spent more than 40 years working there as a sawyer, wildland firefighter, and later running a tree improvement area. He even starred in the OSHA training video “Slips, Trips, and Falls,” which his children, Erin and Michael, loved to watch both forwards and backwards. He remained good friends with many of his co-workers, who enjoyed meeting up to remember their time in the USFS.

He met his wife, Kathy Thoma, at the Bigfork Inn in 1974, where she was a waitress and he was a frequent customer. For their first date, Jim picked Kathy up at 6:30 in the morning to take her hunting. It was her first (and last) time hunting, but she still married him in 1976 at Mission Santa Cruz, in Kathy’s home town. When Erin and Michael were young, he loved to wake them up early by vacuuming and blasting Dire Straits on the record player.

After retiring, Jim remained hardworking, often helping his friends saw down trees (he never found a dead tree he didn’t want to cut down) and keeping his neighborhood free of knapweed (a lifelong nemesis). Some of his favorite pastimes included reading, listening to music, plowing out the neighbors, mowing the grass along Bridge Street, walking his springer spaniels (all of whom put the “spring” in springer), and camping across the state of Montana (many of his fellow campers thought he was the camphost). He was so proud of his grandsons, Flint and Kade. He loved spending time with them and supporting their many endeavors. Kade loved how his grandpa taught him about birthstones, what animals live around Bigfork, and his experiences in the Forest Service. Flint enjoyed talking to his grandpa and also loved the way his laugh could brighten up the room. Jim spent his entire life in the same house that his father built in 1946 in Bigfork.  

He is survived by his wife of 47 years, Kathy; his daughter, Erin and her husband Ed Bauer, and grandsons, Flint and Kade Bauer of Stevensville; son, Michael of Missoula; sister and brother-in-law, Marilyn and Paddy Lee of Kalispell; sister and brother-in-law, Joyce and Ron Hellman of Havre; nephew, Jon and Kate Lee and their children Sylvan and Maren of Portland, Oregon; nephew, Patrick Lee and Frank Rodriguez of Los Angeles, California; nephew, Scott and Brooke Hellman of Powell, Wyoming; and Stacey Hellman of Bozeman.

Jim passed away on Feb. 4, after a valiant battle with cancer. Although he said it was “time to pack in the tent,” his family just wasn’t ready. He raised his family with love and devotion. He is deeply missed.  

A celebration of life will be announced in the spring.