James Lee (Jim) Tracy died at home on September 9, 2017 in Hermiston, Ore., after a heroic battle with cancer. He was 67.
Jim was born on November 4, 1949, in Walla Walla, Wash., to Lloyd and Evelyn Tracy and grew up in Umatilla. Before McNary Dam was built he roamed the islands and shoreline of the Columbia River, even rescuing a spider monkey that had fallen off a passing barge. He loved animals and raised everything his parents would allow. Jim graduated from Umatilla High School in 1968. He went to work at Marlette Mobile Homes before he enlisted in the U.S. Army to serve in Vietnam.
After his honorable discharge, he returned to Hermiston and began working again at Marlette. He bought and remodeled a small home and trailer, chopped his Harley, bought a Chevy van and enjoyed the “good life.” He also found his life lacked meaning and purpose; but on November 19, 1972, Jim found himself at an old-fashioned Pentecostal Revival service. That night at the altar, he gave his life to Jesus Christ and walked away a new man.
Those of you who were privileged to hear his testimony know what a miraculous night that was. He said he felt clean and whole for the first time in his life. Jim said, “God you have done so much for me, what can I do for you?” The answer was, “Just tell folks about me.” And that’s what Jim did for the rest of his life. Even the hospice nurses heard his testimony just days before his death. Jim decided to learn more about serving Jesus and went to Bartlesville Wesleyan College (now Oklahoma Wesleyan University) in Bartlesville, Okla. While there he served on the prison ministry team and worked as a resident assistant in the dorm.
While at BWC he met Dorcie McIntyre. They were married June 6, 1975, and began an adventure that lasted over 42 years. The Tracys moved back to Hermiston in 1977 and their family grew with the additions of Jennifer, Elizabeth and Brian. Jim loved to have people over and frequently invited the whole church for potlucks on Sunday afternoons. He enjoyed building and creating play areas for the kids. Friends remember the fun they had as children with the play house, a tree house complete with rope swings and slide, teeter totters, parachutes, trampoline and over-inflated tractor tire tubes and waterbeds to jump on.
In 1983, he took a job with Sanitary Disposal where he worked for 18 years. He enjoyed the physical labor, emptying cans by hand before automation. He also brought home many found items that he turned into treasure over the years. One of his favorite hobbies was to take something discarded and broken and then repair or repurpose it. When building the current Church of the Nazarene, Jim crafted the pulpit, cross and communion table from the oak pews of the former building.
In 1995 Jim started JLT Paintball. He was especially proud of owning his own business. Over the years, JLT Paintball provided a weekly, safe place for kids and adults to play. Jim ran a tight ship and insisted players stick to the rules. He hosted games for businesses, baseball and football teams and even students visiting from Japan. The business quickly outgrew the little room in the house and Jim built a unique store just outside the front door. Many came to buy guns and ended up just hanging out, telling stories and listening to the wisdom of Jim. Ill health forced Jim to sell the business in 2013 but the life lessons learned on the paintball field continue in many people’s lives.
Preceded in death by his parents, Jim is survived by his wife, Dorcie; daughters Jennifer (Lance) Reidlinger and Elizabeth (Lucas) Bradshaw and son Brian (Jennifer) Tracy; brother Don (Mary Ellen) Tracy; sister Janene Tracy Kelley; many nephews and nieces; and his nine grandchildren: Taylor, Chase, Carson, Jackson, Cooper, Kirsten, Austin, Eleanor (Lennie) and one on the way. He waited each year for spring and summer so he could take them all camping, fishing, shooting and hunting. He loved spending time in the Blue Mountains, especially the area around Desolation Creek. So many precious memories were created on those camping trips.
Jim will be remembered as a kind, gentle man who was always ready and willing to help anyone he could and who loved his family and his Saviour. Jim was a member of the Hermiston Church of the Nazarene for 39 years and held a local preacher’s license.
Jim appreciated the efforts of others to help people get back on their feet. Donations in Jim’s honor may be sent to Desert Rose Ministries, 512 E. Main Street, Hermiston, OR 97838.
A celebration of life service with military honors will be held on Saturday, September 23, 2017, at 1:00 p.m. at the Hermiston Church of the Nazarene, 1520 W. Orchard Ave., Hermiston, OR 97838.
A private family burial will be at the Hermiston Cemetery, Hermiston, Oregon.
Please sign the online condolence book at burnsmortuaryhermiston.com
Burns Mortuary of Hermiston, Oregon, is in care of arrangements.