Rural 07

Jim "J.B." Nelson

September 29, 1927 ~ August 6, 2020 (age 92)

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Jim “J.B.” Nelson, 92, passed on August 6, 2020 from health complications.

  Jim was born September 29, 19127.  Jim spent his life working and taking care of family. Beginning at 11 years old, he worked for sheep and cattle ranchers, farmers, etc. and gave his wages to his parents. At 15 & 16, he worked for the Pondera County Canal Co. as ditch maintenance on horseback, 30 miles round trip, from Belgium Hill to Williams.

 Jim took great pride in serving his country. He graduated at 17 from Valier High School in 1945 and enlisted in the U.S. Marines, he served stateside during World War II. He served in the Army Reserves 1948-1949 in Ft Lewis WA. Jim also served in the Army in the Korean War 1950-1952 where he was stationed at Camp Drew Hospital, Kuyiznomi, Japan. His duty was to process the wounded flown in for medical care. In between Military services, Jim attended MSU and became a Licensed Land Surveyor

 When Jim returned home from Japan, it wasn’t long before he married the love of his life, Dessa Eliza Hale. He saw her walking down the street in Valier, her beautiful red hair shining in the sun, it didn’t take him long to ask her out on a date, the rest is history.

 Jim and Dessa started life together as ranchers, their family grew to include three daughters, Jayme, Jacqui and Jean. The Nelson’s welcomed Janie Burgess Allen Gaxiola into the family in 1964.  

 When ranching failed for the young family, Jim was employed as a Surveyor. His surveying job took him out of town for long periods, so he found a job closer to home. He worked as manager at DeVoe’s Builders Service until retirement in 1990 and served as Mayor of Valier for 19 years.

  The family enjoyed his abilities as a storyteller and an expounder of the truth. His stories were always embellished but told in such a way that you believed everything he said. The family's favorite phrase was, "Mom, is that true?" Sometimes she didn't know and would respond, "Oh, Jim.."

 Jim and Dessa enjoyed working in their yard and making the backyard a haven. They loved to go camping and to art shows and antique stores. Jim said his biggest accomplishment was meeting Dessa and convincing her to marry him. They were married 60 wonderful years before she died in 2013. 

 Jim’s parents were Indor Tillman Nelson and Bonnidelle “Bonnie” A. Wollam Nelson, both of their parents moved to Valier for the 1912 Homestead Act. Jim’s parents named him Jimmie Boyd.


 He was preceded in death by his wife, Dessa; sister, Beverly “Buddie” Gae Goff; brother, Jack "Kim" Nelson; and daughter, Jayme Lee English.

 Survivors include his daughter Jayme’s three stepchildren and eight step-grandchildren; and his daughters, Jacqui Green (Tom) of Chinook and their three children and nine grandchildren, Jeannie Nelson-Vohs who provided in-home care for Jim for 7 years, and her two children and four grandchildren plus two foster grandchildren, and Janie Gaxiola and her two children and six grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews. 

 Graveside service will be August 29th at 2pm at Lakeview Cemetery. Due to the current pandemic, no gathering will follow.

 Condolences can be made to Jim’s memorial page at

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Jim "J.B." Nelson, please visit our floral store.


Graveside Service
August 29, 2020

2:00 PM
Lakeview Cemetery
15045 US Highway 44
Valier, Montana 59486

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