Hedley James ‘Jim’ Arthur

Hedley James “Jim” Arthur, 76, of Winifred, died surrounded by his family after a long battle with cancer on Sunday, Aug. 21, 2016 at the Central Montana Nursing and Rehab Center under the care of Hospice. He was born Sept. 1, 1939 in Lewistown, the son of Hedley J. and Elizabeth “Tiny” (LaFountain) Arthur. He grew up on their ranch east of Winifred and attended grade school through high school in the Winifred area. Jim graduated from Winifred High School in 1957.

Jim served two years in the Army. His basic training was at Fort Sill, Okla. Then, stationed out of Fort Hood, Texas as an Electronics Communication Specialist, Jim spent 3 ½ months in France and Germany. After his discharge he worked as a brand inspector for two years and then for the BLM, Department of Interior out of Lewistown for 26 ½ years. After retiring he lived in Winifred, collected historic photographs and artifacts and traveled to antique gun shows, often with his mother, Tiny. Jim was an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, and learned traditional beadwork.  He continued to live in Winifred and cared for his parents until their passing in 1992 and 1993.  

In 2014, Jim went to live at Caslen Living Center in Lewistown, where he met many new friends. He enjoyed his time at Caslen and all the extra care he received.

Jim was instrumental in establishing Winifred’s museum and library. He was excited by the challenge of starting a museum from the floor up and contributed many volunteer hours during the planning stages. Without his enthusiasm for history, Winifred would not have a museum today. In May of 2004, he was elected by the City Council to be the first curator of the Winifred Museum. Due to health issues Jim retired as curator 2007, but continued to share his knowledge.

He was a well-known local historian and was instrumental in preserving much of Montana’s history, especially in northern Fergus County from the Missouri Breaks through the Winifred area. Jim was interviewed and provided significant historical context for the production of a film documenting settlements along the Missouri River entitled “Pride and Perseverance: Settlers in the Missouri River Breaks.” Jim wrote numerous historical books and articles.  He published the first “History of Winifred” book in 1988, which was later used to compile the updated “Dog Creek Chronicles” in 2013. He was nominated for the Montana Historical Society Heritage Keepers Award and received recognition from the Winifred Museum for the preservation of history in Central Montana.  

Jim was never married but all of his extended family and friends were extremely important to him. He is survived by three brothers, Larry (Shirley) of Winifred, Don (Elva) of Billings, Sid (Penny) of Bozeman; two sisters, Patsy (Bob) Simac of Winifred and Bea (Tony) Lunda of Shelby; and numerous nieces and nephews, including one special niece, Jodi DeMars and her family of Winifred. He was preceded in death by his parents, one brother Tony, a nephew, Travis Lunda, an angel niece, and a great niece Katey Arthur.  

Graveside services for Jim will be Saturday, Aug. 27th at 1 p.m. in the Lewistown City Cemetery with Military Honors provided by Winifred American Legion Post #120 and the US Navy Honor Guard. Cremation has taken place under the care of Creel Funeral Home. Memorials can be made to a charity of the donor’s choice and may be left with the Creel Funeral Home. Jim’s family and friends can share memories and condolences at www.creelfuneralhome.com.

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