James Taylor ’59

On April 5, 2020, James Campbell Taylor, known as Jim to most and Jamie to his wife, passed away at the age of 82, peacefully and at home. He had time to say goodbye to his beloved wife and children and to tell them the most important things on his mind. He kept his sense of humor till the end.

Jim was born June 25, 1937 in Buffalo, New York, while his parents were returning home from his sister’s college graduation. He grew up in San Antonio, Texas, as the youngest of six children.

He attended high school at the Thacher School in Ojai, California, and maintained a lifelong relationship with it. He received a BA in Business from Davidson College, NC and a Master in Applied Science from Montana State College.

Jim met his future wife, Beatrice Reeves, at the University of Pennsylvania library. In 1960, they were married and moved to Montana to oversee his family’s ranches. He had started working as a ranch hand for his father at 12 years old, so he was well-prepared for it. He loved cattle genetics and the quest to breed a better animal for dryland pastures. Later he took over the ranches himself and worked to improve the land and the herd.

Jim and Bea had four children and 15 grandchildren. Of all his accomplishments, Jim was proudest of his family, individually and the way they all get along as a group. He delighted in supporting any goal they had dedicated themselves to. He was an avid tennis player and enjoyed teaching his children and grandchildren how to play – as long as they took it seriously.

When Jim asked Bea to marry him, they made a pact to travel together often, a promise that he kept for nearly 60 years. Over the years they made 64 trips abroad and visited more than 100 countries, often taking children with them to far-flung locations like Tahiti, Egypt, Zambia, and Nepal. Their favorite trips were Argentina, England, the Caribbean, and the Marquesas Islands. He loved to fly and served on the board for the Gallatin Airport Authority for nearly two decades, helping to grow from a small local field to a regional airport.

Jim got involved in the community as soon as they moved to Montana. He served in the Army National Guard and became part of the business community by joining the board of the First National Bank, where he served for nearly four decades.

His love for helping small businesses led him to participate in the Bozeman Area Chamber of Commerce, Montana Chamber of Commerce, MSU School of Business Advisory Council, the Montana Council of Economic Education. He also received an Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration from MSU.

Having grown up with a family interested in mining and oil interests, it was natural for Jim to follow suit. He was fascinated by geology and co-owned a mine in Nevada with a good friend for many years. He stayed involved with the oil industry and served on boards for Advanced Extraction Technologies and KN Energy, Inc., where he enjoyed the friendships he made.

He believed passionately in education and encouraged his children to pursue it as far as they desired. He served on the boards of Thacher School, Rocky Mountain College, and the MSU President’s Advisory Board. He received the MSU Blue & Gold Award for service to MSU and the Museum of the Rockies, and an Honor Doctorate of Laws from Rocky Mountain College.

His involvement in the life of the community led him to become a founding board member for Bozeman Symphony Society and to serve on the boards for Intermountain Opera Association and Bozeman Deaconess Hospital. He supported many community organizations with advice, connections, and thoughtful donations. He was always ready to listen to plans for new initiatives and offer generous but pointed critiques of the practicality of the ideas.

In recent years, he and Bea became snowbirds and spent the winter in Indian Wells, where they enjoyed golf and many friendships, new and old. He stayed engaged with his children and grandchildren, business, and world events, and was always ready for a vigorous conversation.

Jim was known as a gentleman. He worked hard and liked to have fun, but most of all he cared about people and his community. He was good at listening and talking – he could tell a story with great flair – and he could talk to anyone. He was skilled at listening to both sides of a story and providing perspective.

Jim’s parents and siblings predeceased him. He is survived by his wife, Bea Taylor; his children, Deborah McAtee, Susan Taylor, James (Lisa) Taylor, and Betsy (Pat) Schamberger; and by 15 beloved grandchildren: Robert, Steven, Virginia, and Leo McAtee; Aniko and Jake Nelson; Beatrice, Brandy, Morgan, Jamie, Corey, Winter, and Stormy Taylor; and Alex and Josie Schamberger.

A memorial service will be held when friends and family can gather safely.

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