Beloved husband, father, grandfather, friend, and devoted citizen, James (Jim) Neff passed away peacefully, at home, on Sunday, July 12, 2020.
Jim was born into a strong, loving family at home in Alger, Washington on October 3, 1925, the youngest of nine children of Elfrida (Shassey) Neff and Ben Neff.
The family moved to So. Spruce Street in Burlington in 1929. Jim attended Grades 1-12 in Burlington, 3 years at Roosevelt School, 5 at Lincoln, 3 at Burlington High School, and 1 year as part of the first consolidated graduating class of Burlington-Edison High School in 1943. Upon graduating, Jim immediately enlisted in the Army Air Corps Aviation Cadet Program. He spent two years in training to become a B-29 Flight Engineer. Just before completing his training, World War II ended, and he was discharged November, 1945 for the convenience of the government, much to his disappointment. At enlistment, Jim had joined his 3 brothers and 2 brothers-in-law, who were already fighting in WW II. Jim returned to Burlington, resumed courtship with his high school sweetheart, Lorraine Wear, and waited a year for her to graduate in 1946. In January, 1947, Jim and Lorraine were married at St. Charles Catholic Church. From this union came 3 sons: Marc, Douglas, and Kevin.
From 1945-1949 Jim worked for R.L. Jeffrey at a Mobil Service Station, learning the trade. In 1949, Jim was coerced into joining Lorraine’s father on the family farm, with the promise of taking over management of the dairy herd. This position never materialized and, after 3 years of frustration, the dairy herd was sold and the farm converted to beef cattle.
In 1959, an opportunity arose for Jim to assume control of a service station. Within a year, Texaco took control of the old Green Gate Tavern property on the corner of Burlington Boulevard and Rio Vista, and Jim operated Jim Neff Texaco there from 1959-1981.
Upon the death of his father-in-law, Jim returned to the family farm to help his mother-in-law. In 1992, upon the death of his mother-in-law, with Lorraine having inherited the farm, he, son Doug and family, with the help of Marc and Kevin, established a beef and hay ranch, which is still in operation today, specializing in natural grass-fed beef and hayledge and 2nd and 3rd cutting quality hay for all animals.
In 1994, after 47 years of marriage, Lorraine passed away and Jim continued ranching full-time.
Jim started playing bridge with 3 other widowers, and from this came a romance with Betty Stump. Having been neighbors and friends for many years, and going to the same church with Fred and Betty, it was a natural and loving transition, culminating in marriage in 1997, with the addition of 4 daughters to the family, the 4 Ks: Kris, Kim, Kerri, and Kelli.
Throughout his life, Jim enjoyed fishing, hunting, card-playing (especially poker) and worldwide travel.
Jim was preceded in death by his wife, Lorraine Wear Neff, mother and father, Elfrida and Ben Neff, 5 brothers: Baby Neff, Sherman (Hilda), Louis (Alice), Victor (Jenny), and Robert (Bill), as well as 3 sisters: Ruth (Ring) Tjeerdsma, Rena (Robert) Johnson, Rose (Bill) Biggerstaff, and in-laws: Hugh and Mary Wear, Nina (Clifford) Flanary, and JoAnn Hannan. Jim was also preceded in death by his father-in-law, Louis Imhoff, brother-in-law, Lou Imhoff, son-in-law, Randy “Griz” Adams, daughter, Kerri Laird, grandson, Adam Wolfe, and dear friends: Fred Stump, Don Whipple, Clyde Chase, Marvin Youngquist, and Tom Oswald.
Jim is survived by his loving wife of 23 years, Betty Stump Neff, 3 sons: Marc (Mary), Douglas (Becky), and Kevin, 3 daughters: Kris Adams, Kim McSheridan, and Kelli (Chris) Stangel, as well as numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Jim’s accomplishments include Burlington Kiwanis, Lifetime member of Elks Lodge 1604, Citizen’s Advisory Board of Burlington-Edison School District, 3 terms on the Burlington City Council, Board of Directors Marysville Livestock Auction, Junior Chamber of Commerce, and member of the group that developed Skagit Properties and Skagit Beach, commonly referred to as the Downey Farm. Jim was also a lifetime member of St. Charles Catholic Church.
About 1970, Jim was asked to substitute in a group of prominent citizens that had formed a Poker group in 1935. This game is still in progress, and Jim continued playing every Wednesday night for the rest of his life, referring to this as his weekly “Choir Practice”. His other faithful choir members, so near and dear to his heart, include: Gene Sargent, Gerry Nelson, Al Brown, Rob Dowen, Rich Brandt, Roger Nelson, Mark Knutzen, and Stu Thomas.
Jim was laid to rest at Bow Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, donations in honor of Jim may be sent to St. Charles Catholic Church, 935 Peterson Rd., Burlington, WA 98233