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Family Owned & Operated Since 1902
314 Church St. | P.O. Box 12
Stevensville, Montana, 59870
Phone 406-777-5711 | Fax 406-777-0181
Email: whitesittfh@gmail.com

James E. "Jim" Labbe

Born: Sat., Jul. 23, 1938
Died: Thu., Oct. 15, 2020


Private Services


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TURAH - James E. Labbe - “Jim”, 82, of Turah, passed away Thursday, October 15, at home from pancreatic cancer, with his wife, Josephine, by his side. From his early days growing up in Piltzville, running on logs floating down the Blackfoot River to the old mill, hopping trains with his brothers to get to a duck hunting blind or fishing hole on the Clark Fork River, to his home that he built in Turah, Jim Labbe knew his Western Montana. Born to Edmond and Louise Labbe on July 23, 1938, Jim grew up in Piltzville, graduating from Missoula County High School. He was the first enlistee from the state of Montana to join the US Army Reserves at the young age of 16, where he earned his Rifle M-1 (Marksman’s Badge). This began his life of service to our country. After 5 years in the military he was Honorably medically discharged and began a career with the US Forest Service. He first worked at clearing and maintaining trail and then up through the ranks to his position of Fire Crew Dispatcher for many years, dispatching crews in the Bitterroot and Lolo National Forests. His career path eventually took him into law enforcement when he was asked to attend the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, GA, to earn his Special Agent rank. He spent many years as Special Agent #229 for the USFS and could tell many a story. It was during his earlier years in the Seeley Lake Region that he was asked to do a Smokey Bear presentation to a young Josephine Ployhar’s class of students that he met the love of his life and partner, who would stand beside him in marriage for the next 58 years, bringing ten children, twenty grandchildren and five great grandchildren. A tough old bear himself, he could deliver a stern message or give a look that told there would be no further discussion. And on the other hand, he liked nothing better than to tease with that twinkle in his blue eyes or even one up at a game of cards (which, by the way, was always contested; who would be the one to sit right next to him during these games?!) His older grandkids gave Grandpa a wide berth, just in case he might find an ear to tweek. The younger ones found a shared passion for his old cowboy movies and could occasionally be found on his lap while one was playing on tv. Jim was one who enjoyed the outdoors, especially if he were hunting in Helmville, helping his buddy Bill Baker with cows at the ranch, driving through his old ranger district or any surrounding mountains; but NOT if it required him to pick huckleberries. The culmination of hunting season always ended with sausage making and smoking, where he took pride in passing this tradition down to his boys, making sure he “supervised” the annual party to ensure correct procedures were being followed. On many hot summer days he was the river shuttle for his daughters and friends, doing the drop off and occasionally the pickup, always taking a photo of the “inner tube bunch” as they waved and floated away. He took pleasure though, in the many family gatherings that were held throughout the years, and as you can imagine, with a family the size of his, there were many. He deserves credit for instilling a love of snowmobiling with his sons starting in the 1970’s and still going strong today. He looked forward to what became the annual family camp-out, which started as a surprise 50th wedding anniversary trip and has continued annually since then. We could always count on him to pack enough firewood to last several camping trips; which was another favorite pastime of his- getting firewood. The pile still stands and although hasn’t been added to for years, still takes up an imposing position in the yard. Retiring from the Forest Service in 1989, he spent his next “retirement” job working as a federal court bailiff for Judge Larson. Even after retiring from that position in 2014 his heart seemed to always lead him back to the fires. We always knew if there was any fire activity in the region he could be found checking out the fire with binoculars, from a safe distance. He could identify any type of fire fighting aircraft within earshot, and often did. Survivors include: his wife of 58 years, Josephine, Turah, MT, children, Neil (Debbie) Berthoud, CO, Stan (Linda) Deer Lodge, MT, Mary Lou (Scott) Hankel, Missoula, MT, Vince (Sara) Anaconda, MT, Nick (Nan’Cee) Turah, MT, Anne Labbe, Longmont, CO, Paul (Heather) Missoula, MT, Carole Haidle, Missoula, MT, Julie (Joe) Tomlanovich, Clinton, MT, Donna (Jake) Fuller, Missoula, MT, 20 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren and many numerous family and close friends. Due to Covid-19 private family services have been held under the care of Whitesitt Funeral Home and Cremation. Jim is laid to rest at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Missoula, MT. The family would like to give special thanks to his Partners in Home Care Hospice nurses, especially Terry, for their dedication, kindness, and gentle care during his last months. The family suggests that memorials be made to St. Ann’s Church , PO Box 1008, Bonner, MT 59823 or on line to the Disabled American Veterans Charity at www.DAV.org, by mail to Disabled American Veterans, PO Box 14301, Cincinnati, OH 45250-0301 or to Partners in Home Care Hospice, 2673 Palmer St, Missoula, MT 59801. Condolences and memories may be shared with the family at www.whitesittfuneralhome.com.

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Bill and Judy Albrecht
   Posted Tue October 20, 2020
Bill and I want to express our sadness having heard of Jim's death. He was a fine man! We always enjoyed seeing him and swapping a few stories. We want you to know you are all in our thoughts. Judy and Bill

Roberta BemIs
   Posted Tue October 20, 2020
Dear Jo and family,
Our prayers are with you in the loss of dear Jim. We hope all of your wonderful memories will give you comfort at this time.
Love from,
Russ and Roberta BemIs

JOHN WARNER
   Posted Wed October 21, 2020
Am so sorry to hear of Jim's passing. He was a damn good man. I'll miss joking with him in Church, at breakfast and occasionally at Poor Henrys.
Kay enjoyed our too short years with Jim and will miss telling the two of us to quiet down.
John & Kay Warner.

Bob Darling
   Posted Sun October 25, 2020
My deepest condolences to Jim's family. I worked with Jim in law enforcement for the Forest Service and had the utmost respect for him. I was glad to call him my friend. I have many fond memories of our times together.

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