MISSOULA — James (Jim) Houghron Polsin passed away of congestive heart failure complicated by a bout of pneumonia on Friday, May 24, 2019. Jim passed peacefully surrounded by his family.
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Jim was the first of five children born Feb. 17, 1932, to Velma and Joseph Polsin in Berlin, Wisconsin, where he grew up along the Fox River fishing for perch, bullhead and muskie. Jim (or “Tiny” as his classmates called him) attended St. Peter’s college in Baltimore, Maryland, in preparation to join the seminary. Luckily for his family, the priesthood was not in the cards, so Jim joined the Army instead becoming a military policeman serving in the 529th Military Police Company in Heidelberg, Germany. He would later regale the family with stories of his leave in Europe. Europe would not recover from Jim’s leave until the Reagan era.
After his time in the Army, Jim came back to Wisconsin to pursue his studies in communications. While at his sister Patricia’s wedding, Jim (who was best man) met and fell in love with his future wife of 61 years, Nancy (the maid of honor). They would be married 18 months later and together raise four children.
Jim earned a BA in secondary education from Wisconsin State College (Oshkosh), followed by an MA and Ph.D. in communications at The University of Kansas (KU) specializing in interpersonal communication, argumentation, and communication ethics. He then pursued his passion for teaching first as a lecturer at Gonzaga University in Spokane, and later at the University of Montana, where he retired as an associate professor from the Department of Communication Studies in 1997. Jim molded almost 10 generations of students over the course of 30 years explaining the virtues of the classical Greeks (Aristotle, Socrates, Euripides), leading UM’s debate team as their forensics coach and telling off-color jokes about whatever politician happened to be popular at the time.
Jim lived life on his own terms instilling in his children a deep passion to not accept the status quo, but to always question ”is this ‘right,’ or is there a better way?” While this view wasn’t always popular, Jim always made you think.
Jim loved his life in Montana with Nancy and his boys and always found time to cast in a line, not for muskies in the Fox River, but for trout in Rock Creek.
Jim is survived by the love of his life, his wife of 61 years, Nancy of Missoula, and three sons: Timothy (Kelly) of Bremerton, Washington, Thomas (Leslie) of Spokane, Washington, and Andrew (Deborah) of Seattle, Washington, along with four grandsons (Patrick, Zachary, Alex and Nicholas), and four granddaughters (Elizabeth, Rebecca, Jillian and SarahAnn). He was preceded in death by his parents, his sister Patricia, his oldest son Michael, and his grandson Samuel. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m., Saturday, June 15, 2019, at Christ The King Catholic Church in Missoula.
We love you Dad, rest in peace.
The family requests any donations be made to Christ The King Catholic Church.