Cover photo for James Erin Caplis's Obituary
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1969 James 2021

James Erin Caplis

December 31, 1969 — March 3, 2021

James Erin Caplis, 91, of Missoula, passed away on Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021 at St. Patrick Hospital of natural causes.

James was born on July 7th, 1929 in Missoula to William and Sarah (Lalonde) Caplis. As a child Jim lived and worked on the family farm with his 7 brothers and sisters west of Missoula and attended DeSmet school, a one room schoolhouse. After the family moved into town he attended St Francis Xavier Elementary School and Missoula County High School where he played basketball and football. Jim served daily mass as an alter boy at St. Francis church where he was an active member of the parish for his 91 years.

James was introduced to his future wife, Mary Ann “Molly” Kelly, by his cousin, Patricia (Caplis) Thaggard, at a local dance. On July 26th, 1958 Jim and Molly married in Butte. They spent many happy years together in Missoula where they welcomed a daughter, Kathy, and a son, James Patrick. Jim was a wonderful husband and father. Jim and Kathy logged many miles exploring the backroads in the five valleys looking for bears, beautiful rocks, and doing deliveries. Jim and his son enjoyed making pinewood derby cars and eating bratz at the Griz football games.

Jim was known for his profound work ethic. He started selling newspapers on the corner of Main and Higgins at 8 years old. At 15 he started fighting forest fires but if anyone asked he was 16, the minimum age for hire. He then entered the meat business and worked for Daily’s and Diamond Bar Meats. Eventually Jim opened his own establishment, K&C Meats, a marriage of the names Kelly and Caplis. Rain or shine, Jim opened the doors of K&C 6 days a week until retiring at the age of 89. “The Shop” was a meeting place for family and friends, many of whom worked there, including his son James and brother Bill. Jim was known for his brute strength and the size of his hands. There was nothing Jim couldn’t do. Jim loved his customers and the community. His secret recipes were favorites at local restaurants and Griz tailgates.

Jim was a member of the Eagles, the Moose, the Elks, and the Knights of Columbus. He was always donating meat to local groups and charities. Jim loved all local and professional sports and if you asked him, he knew more than the coaches. He was a voracious reader and enjoyed history. Jim was a natural teacher, both in terms of training his staff and teaching his granddaughters how to write, do arithmetic, and drive. He loved his granddaughters and great granddaughter very much. Jim loved to be outdoors and almost every weekend could be found in his yard. He loved to sing and share his colorful stories of youthful endeavors with his cousins Kenny and Bobby. We’ll miss you always and love you forever.

Jim was preceded in death by his wife Molly; his infant son John Joseph; his parents William and Sarah Caplis; his brothers William and Dennis and his sisters Julia, Dorthy, Eileen, Edith, and Sarah.

Jim is survived by his daughter Kathy Caplis-Moe; his son James Caplis; granddaughters Jessica Moe, Kaitlin (Eric) Delphy, and Megan Moe and great granddaughter Charlotte Delphy, all of Missoula. Jim is also survived by numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and wonderful friends.

Visitation will be on Friday March 12th at 6PM at Garden City Funeral Home, immediately followed by the Rosary recitation. A Mass will be held on Saturday, March 13th at 10:30AM at St. Francis Xavier Church. Burial will follow at St Mary’s Annex. Pallbearers will be Eric Delphy, James Gatchel, David Gatchel, Jessica Moe, Kaitlin Delphy, and Megan Moe. Honorary Pallbearers are Richard Gatchel, Carl Gilbertson, and Claude Huguet. Due to Covid restrictions, a small reception will be held at Garden City Funeral Home following the burial with limited seating. Masks are required at all venues. Those who are unable to attend can view the livestream on Garden City’s website.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials be made to St. Francis Xavier church or the Missoula Lions Club.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of James Erin Caplis, please visit our flower store.


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