On November 20, 2011, our beloved father, James J. Murtha passed away quietly and gently, much in the same manner he lived his life.

James was born August 29, 1921, in Condon, Oregon, to James and Kathleen Murtha, the fifth of seven children. He grew up on the family ranch, known as “Rock Creek.” He attended a one-room country school with his brothers and sisters, later graduating high school from St Mary’s Academy in The Dalles, Oregon.

Dad served as a U.S. Marine in the Pacific during World War II. Semper Fi, Dad! Upon his return home, he married his first wife, Mary. They later divorced. From this union, seven children were born. In 1977, Dad married the love of his life, Delores Turner. Sadly, she died a year later.

Dad was no stranger to hard work, and always made sure his family was well cared for. He first found work driving a milk route. He then worked on the shipping docks in Portland, Oregon, during which time he went to trade school to study carpentry. In 1950, Dad joined the Portland Fire Department, where he served the City of Portland until he retired as lieutenant in 1982. Dad built several homes over the years, doing all of the work himself, from the foundation up to the chimney tops. He was a true craftsman.

Dad’s greatest passion, however, was his cattle. He was an Eastern Oregon man at heart. He continued to run a successful cattle ranch during his firefighting years, and returned to live on his beloved ranch on the John Day River upon his retirement from the fire department. He continued to run cattle until he was 88 years of age.

Dad then moved to Montana to live with his eldest son and then with his youngest daughter and her family. His days were happy and full; going for walks, golf cart rides, long drives in the country, watching his grandchildren and great grandchildren play, watching old episodes of Bonanza, and reading. Dad was a prolific reader, and to the end, his mind was razor sharp. He read the paper daily, from front to back, and kept up with all the news, which he would discuss with us in detail every evening.

Dad was the kindest, most gentle, and sweetest man ever there was. All who met him adored him instantly. He will be greatly missed.

Dad was preceded in death by his second wife, Delores, and his daughter, Elizabeth Larson. He is survived by six children, James E. Murtha (Carolyn), Mont., John Murtha (Chris), Nev., Kathryn Garrett, Montana, Robert Murtha, Ore., Jeanne Murtha, Mont., and Joannie Volesky (Doug) of Mont. He also leaves behind 15 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren; his brother, Pat Murtha, and sister, Mary Chambers.

Cremation has taken place. Dad will be laid to rest with his wife at Willamette National Cemetery in Portland, Oregon, at a later date.

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