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In Memoriam: James “Jim” Kitzhaber (July 8, 1940-November 14, 2023)

James “Jim” Kitzhaber passed away on November 14, 2023, in Gates, Oregon, leaving behind a legacy of dedication, compassion, and boundless generosity. Born on July 8, 1940, in Greeley, Colorado, to Rae Blackwell Kitzhaber and James Lawrence Kitzhaber, Jim was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, and a cherished member of the community.

After high school, Jim honorably served in the United States Coast Guard. After serving several years, upon his discharge he pursued several certifications, one of the most he was proud of was his EMT certification. Starting in Idaho, Jim began volunteering his time with the Gates Fire Department. His dedication to emergency services spanned forty years, where he served as a beacon of hope and support in times of crisis. His commitment to the community extended beyond his professional life; he was an integral part of the Gates Volunteer Fire Department, contributing four decades of service. As President of the 4th of July community parade, he brought joy and unity to the town, fostering a spirit of togetherness that will endure. Jim was also a member of the Steel Headers association, which he enjoyed very much. Additionally, he owned his own business, “Jim’s Rip and Tear Construction,” which he was very proud of and would pass out his business cards whenever he got the chance. Continuing his love of the outdoors, he worked for the Department of Fish and Wildlife and US Forest Service. He was a hard worker and was passionate about anything he did. He was Man of the Year for his dedication to his community and the well being of others.

On February 14, 1996, James united in marriage with his beloved wife Patricia Kitzhaber in Elco, Nevada. Together, they shared a life filled with love and devotion, weathering life’s ups and downs hand-in-hand. He was a wonderfully dedicated husband and father to his children and stepchildren. Jim was a man of many talents and passions. As an avid outdoorsman, Jim found solace and joy in nature. Whether it was woodworking, rebuilding, fishing, or crabbing on his boat, he found peace in the the rhythm of the natural world. His adventurous spirit led him to explore cross-country, enjoy snowmobiling, and revel in the freedom of horseback riding. Jim donated his time to his beloved Big Meadows, where he built the campground, welded the corrals at Cyrus Springs, and each year took a trip to Sheep Springs. He would ride at the horse camps, cook for the club, and was known for his Dutch oven desserts and famous cinnamon rolls. Besides his horses, he cherished all his pets and found comfort in feeding his birds.

Jim was preceded in death by his parents, his son James Joseph (Jimmy Joe) Alvin Kitzhaber, and his brother Bill Kitzhaber. He is survived by his loving wife Patricia, daughter Robyn Rae Kitzhaber Onstot, grandsons Chase Glen Onstot, Tanner James Onstot and Spencer Jo Onstot, great-granddaughter Hazel James Onstot, siblings Laura Dillard and Paul Kitzhaber, stepsons Eric Weitman, Jason Weitman and Dustin Weitman, along with a large extended family of thirty grandchildren and great-grandchildren. James Kitzhaber will be rembered not only for his remarkable accomplishments, but for his kindness, selflessness and unwavering commitment to making the world a better place. His absence leaves a void in the hearts of those who knew and love him, but his spirit will live on in the countless lives he touched. In his memory, may we carry forward his legacy of service, love and compassion.

We ask people to write a brief note about Jim, Memorial Service April 7, 2024, 2PM, Stayton Community Center.

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