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James Mayes

James Mayes

Friday, November 19th, 1926 - Sunday, May 10th, 2020
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Obituary

James E. Mayes of Missoula passed away on Sunday, May 10th, surrounded by loved ones. Known to most as Jimmy or Jim, though if you had asked him what he liked to be called, he almost certainly would have told you that “most people just call me handsome.”
Jim was born on November 19, 1926, the middle child of three in Long Beach, California, to Jim and Ethel Mayes, A natural athlete, he entertained himself as a young child by swinging from tree to tree around the perimeter of his yard and surfing with his homemade surfboard, In high school, he found his calling, – track. Jim was naturally suited to the sport and excelled at the pole vault, triple jump, and broad jump. In 1944, as a high school senior at Polytechnic High in Long Beach, he earned acclaim and the unofficial title of ‘pole vaulting ace’ when he walked away ranked 4th nationally as a pole vaulter among both high school and college competitors. The record he set for vault with a bamboo pole still stands today.
In 1944, Jim enlisted in the United States Army and prepared to serve his country. He arrived in Missoula for training and began attending the University of Montana on a track scholarship. The coaches were disappointed however, when he was called up in April of 1945 and had to press pause on his athletic career. You would never hear him complain about the transition, because Army training had led Jim to Missoula, and to his first encounter with his future wife, Margie Howard. Jim approached her with his characteristic sense of humor and the two felt an instant connection. They were married on September 6th, 1947 following Jim’s honorable discharge from the Army. It was the beginning of 72 years of marriage, building a family, and a life filled with travel.
After graduating from the University of Montana, Jim joined the Howard family business eventually becoming the plant manager of the Florence Laundry and Dry Cleaners, but still felt the call of his deep love of sport and his natural athleticism. While continuing to manage the Florence Laundry, he opened Jim’s Gym on the top floor of the building, creating a home for local handball enthusiasts and boxers. Here he exercised his prowess and developed both his love of handball and his dream of owning his own health club. In 1977 that dream came true, and Jim started the Courthouse Racquetball and Health Club. There he was well known as both a generous, well-loved employer, and as a master on the handball courts, which he frequented until he was forced to “downgrade” to racquetball as he aged.
Jim was big-hearted, bright, and charming, with a quick wit and a generous spirit. He made friends wherever he went and delighted in making those around him smile. A loving husband, father, and grandfather, he also took great care of his extended family and colleagues. He loved golf, travel, and the Grizzlies.

Jim is survived by his wife, Margie; son, Jay Mayes (Diane); daughter, Jamie Weston (Bill); son in law, Brian Smith, six grandchildren, and one great grandchild. Jim was preceded in death by his daughter Kimberly Mayes Smith.

Visitation will be Friday, May 15th at 12:00 pm at Garden City Funeral Home, followed by the memorial celebration at 1:00 pm with Father Gary Reller officiating. Burial will follow at St. Mary’s Cemetery. We will be following the current social distancing local orders, but please make your decision to attend based on what is best for you and your loved ones.

Instead of flowers, please consider a contribution to a charity of your choice.
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