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If you knew James, you knew that, “my mother called me James, but my friends called me Jim”. Known for his good apples and bad jokes, Jim never had trouble making friends wherever he went. His goal in every relationship was to point others towards his Savior, Jesus Christ. Jim would be first to tell you that he was not a perfect man and that he made many mistakes. Yet, by the grace of God, his life leaves a legacy of love, generosity and laughter.
Born on October 15th, 1949, the last of a family of six children, Jim was fond of relating how his parents were stuck in an unheated schoolhouse during a blizzard and nine months later he was born. From the beginning, Jim (Jamie, Jase, Jamcake) lived overcoming challenges. He was born with a severe heart defect that gave him a very short life expectancy. This somber reality did not prevent Jim from living life to the fullest. During his childhood he worked hard alongside his family to keep everyone thriving in a time of great financial stress.
Jim would say that he had two heart surgeries in his life. The first was in the summer of 1966 when on a retreat at the headquarters of the Navigators ministry. On that retreat Jim met Jesus Christ and accepted Him as his personal Lord and Savior. Life was never the same for Jim after that. Jim’s second heart surgery was at the age of 21 when God used doctors to repair the heart defect Jim had lived with his whole life.
After some time of learning and shenanigans at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Jim transferred to the University of South Dakota in Vermillion. During his tenure at USD, Jim discovered that in his words “there are two deans lists” after his grades dropped so far he faced expulsion. He buckled down and eventually graduated with his Bachelors in History and his Masters in School Counseling (finishing with mostly “A’s”).
After graduation Jim told the Lord that he would work anywhere but in the public-school system. The Lord told him to “humor Him and do it for a year.” Shortly after that, Jim read that “a day is like a thousand years unto the Lord” and he knew he was in it for the long-haul. Jim was a highly invested junior-high and high school counselor. His passion came not just from the work, but from his care for the students, coworkers and parents with whom he interacted. His mind and heart were always on how best to serve them and do better at his job. He sought to please God first, trusting that the work he did would in turn be pleasing his employers.
During his time at USD, Jim met Claradith Vandel, who he described to his sister as “top-drawer.” After a long courtship and engagement, Jim and Claradith were married on July 1st, 1978. The first ten years of their life together was filled with purchasing and renovating a home, traveling and investing in their church. It was also full of the heartache that comes from struggling with infertility. After mourning the loss of two unborn babies, God blessed Jim and Claradith with a miracle.
Carrie Victoria was born on July 22nd, 1988. Carrie was adored and delighted in by both of her parents. Less than two years later Carrie was joined by new baby, Laura Elizabeth on October 28th, 1990. The family was full of love and activity. On November 9th, 1993, as an answer to Carrie and Laura’s prayers, baby brother, Joshua Eric entered the world and the Kingsbury family. Jim took pride in all three of his children and desired for them to love and follow Jesus.
Jim thrived on being the life of the party at every event, especially with his siblings. He never met someone he wouldn’t befriend. He loved giving generously to all in need. Above all, he loved his Savior and sought to love and serve him well. Today he rests in the arms of Jesus, finally knowing completely the love and peace of God.
Jim is survived by his three children Carrie Kingsbury, Laura Kingsbury, Joshua Kingsbury; his ex-wife Claradith Kingsbury; his siblings Anna Kingsbury, Bess Wadleigh, Ray (Sue) Kingsbury and John (Hannah) Kingsbury. Jim is preceded in death by his father, Raymond George Kingsbury and his mother Mary Irene Kingsbury and his sister Mary Esther Fox.
The memorial services are postponed until the global health situation resolves. The celebration of Jim’s life will continue as he is now where he had longed to be; in the presence of his Savior, free from every burden of this world. Memorials and condolences may be sent in care of Gillette Memorial Chapel 210 West 5th Street, Gillette, WY 82716. Condolences may also be expressed at www.gillettememorialchapel.com
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