Long-time cattle rancher Wayne James passed away in the evening hours of Thursday, May 11, 2023, at St. Mary’s Hospital in Cottonwood, Idaho. Wayne was born August 14, 1935 in Cottonwood to his parents, Francis and Ethel Orr James. Shortly after, Wayne moved with his parents to a ranch about 10 miles north of Grangeville. He told his parents, he wanted to stay on that ranch for the rest of his life and that is exactly what happened.
Wayne attended grade school at the Columbus School House on Cottonwood Creek, not far from his home, where he rode his horse to school every day. He attended Grangeville High School, graduating in 1953.
In 1954, Wayne enlisted in the Idaho National Guard and served until 1964. During that time, he was selected for special officer training near Washington DC. He was later called up with a group of 50 officers to go to Germany to observe the building of the wall dividing Berlin and Germany into East and West Germany. He often commented how that trip gave him a greater appreciation for the freedoms we have in the United States.
On May 20, 1966, Wayne married Sandra Seckman Heuett in Coeur d’Alene and went to the Washington coast for a brief honeymoon. Sandra was new to ranch life and many people thought it wouldn’t last, but she and Wayne created a life and a marriage that lasted nearly 39 years before Sandra passed in 2005. His love for Sandra was the inspiration for a 2009 documentary that was made about Wayne’s life called “Sky Settles Everything,” produced by his cousin poet Verlena Orr.
In 2016, Wayne was selected to be Grand Marshal of the Border Days Fourth of July celebration. He felt very honored to be selected and at almost 82 years old, was determined to ride his horse in the parade. He rode all three parade days. He proudly wore his Grand Marshal belt buckle often.
Wayne’s survivors include his stepchildren Cheryl Heuett of Kent, Washington, and Kevin Heuett, of Portland, Oregon, first cousins Verlena Orr of Portland and Millie (Gary) Hughes of Spokane, nieces Kim Cooke and Debbie Lee, and nephews Bill Dietrich, Kelly Elliott Butler, and Danny DeArment. There are so many cousins it would be hard to name them all, but in addition to those already named, he especially treasured Tammy and Kurt Loehlein, Michelle Wynne, Cindy Wynne and their families, Rhonda Stearns, Matt Elwing, and Christianna Burns.
There were people in his life that have already passed that he particularly missed including cousin Marilyn Elwing, neighbor Jerry Nunnally, and fellow cowboy Leon Slichter.
A very special thank you to Renee and Anthony Verdino and their family for all the work and care and love they gave to Wayne and his ranch over the years. Your efforts made it possible for Wayne to keep ranching these past several years.
Wayne was a smart, funny, stubborn, and hard-working cowboy. He lived his life on his own terms and did not care what other people thought. He was a person of integrity who kept his word and always dealt fairly with others, even if that meant sometimes being brutally honest. He was one-of-a-kind and he will be missed by all the people in his life and in his community.
A funeral will be held Saturday, May 20, 2023 at 11:00 am at Blackmer Funeral Home in Grangeville, Idaho, followed by the burial at Fairview Cemetery north of Grangeville. A light lunch will be served at Cheryl Heuett’s house near Grangeville. Directions will be provided after the funeral. Arrangements are under the direction of the Blackmer Funeral Home, Grangeville. Send condolences to the family at blackmerfuneralhome.com.
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