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James Thomas Pirtle


Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

James Thomas Pirtle, 90, Olathe, Kansas, passed away from Alzheimer’s disease on January 2, 2021.

Inurnment will be in Faith Mausoleum II, Mt. Moriah Cemetery South, 10507 Holmes Road. Contributions can be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, Heart of America Chapter, 3846 W. 75th Street Prairie Village, Kansas 66208, or Wayside Waifs (waysidewaifs.org). Condolences can be made at www.mtmoriah.net.

Jim was born March 25, 1930, in Canadian, Texas, to James Burgher Pirtle and Vida Aileen (Lively) Pirtle. He had three younger brothers: Robert L. Pirtle, David L. Pirtle (deceased), and Patrick A. Pirtle. He was married for 64 years to Frances (Blanton) Pirtle, who predeceased him.

He is survived by his three daughters: Frances Lynne (Randy) Johns, Jamie Carole Pirtle, and Susan Kay (Dr. Douglas) Girod; eight grandchildren: Clinton, Ryan, Adam, Erica, Mark, Katelyn, Callie, and Jimmy; and seven great-grandchildren.

Jim grew up in parts of west Texas and southern New Mexico, until the family settled in Roswell, New Mexico. He was interested in the mechanics of how things worked, which involved building them, and also blowing them up, riding his horse Rosie across the New Mexico plains, hunting, fishing, and working on cars.

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Jim went to New Mexico College of Agriculture & Mechanic Arts at Las Cruces, planning to become an engineer. However, he met a beautiful and vivacious young woman, Frances Blanton. They married in 1950, and Jim left college to start supporting his family, which expanded with the birth of their first child. Lynne, in 1951. Jim had a strong work ethic, and he and Frances shared a strong desire to provide for their family, which grew as daughters Jamie and Susan were born.

Jim initially worked at the White Sands Proving Grounds, directing the production and handling of V-2 rocket fuel, but eventually moved the family back to Roswell to work in the family lumber yard. He then started his own fence-building company, which resulted in fences all over New Mexico bearing yellow “Pirtle Fence Company” signs. When the Air Force Base at Roswell closed, the town went into an economic depression. Jim moved the family to Phoenix, Arizona, and began working for the Del Webb Company. He learned to build production housing, a career that took him to Los Gatos, California, and Denver, Colorado, with Hallcraft Homes, and then back to Los Gatos to work with the William Lyon Company. He loved working for the Lyon Company because of the caliber of the people he worked with and the opportunities it gave him. He became the Vice President of Northern California operations, a position he held until his retirement.

While in California, Jim and Frances became involved in square dancing and then round (ballroom) dancing. They were exquisite dancers and loved the dance community, performing, and the competition.

Jim retired at age 60 in order to have more golden years with Frances. Their love of travel had already taken them around the United States and internationally. Upon retirement, they spent much of their time building a beautiful home in the Santa Fe, New Mexico, foothills and traveling in their RV – going across the U.S., including Alaska, as well as to Mexico and Canada.

Eventually, Frances’s Alzheimer’s made it necessary to move to senior living in Olathe, where they could be close to daughter Susan Girod and her family. Jim continued to make friends and stay active, enjoying concerts, the theater, traveling, his family, and continuing to care for Frances. Jim’s optimism and love of life were impacted by Frances’s illness and death, but he still found joy in family, friends, and his beloved chihuahua, Sadie.

He was a hero, not only to his children, but also to his grandchildren. He was known for his clear moral and ethical center, his positivity and enthusiasm, his sense of humor, and his ability to tell a good story. His memory is a blessing to everyone who knew him.

“He was a man, taken all in all. [We] shall not look upon his like again.”

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