James Gilbert Pechin (Jim)

James Gilbert Pechin (Jim), 88, of Florence, Ariz., passed peacefully on Dec. 18, 2017. Jim was born at home on July 4, 1929, the last of five children, in Junction City, Kan., where he grew up, attended school and worked at the movie theater. Following high school graduation, he attended Kansas State University in Manhattan until he left school after a few semesters and was subsequently drafted into the Army. He was stationed at Camp Atterbury in Indiana for training during the Korean Conflict, but was sent to Germany for post WWII reconstruction, and while on a weekend pass from Camp Atterbury, he met his wife, Maxine Hash. He always liked to tell the story of how they met (along with many other stories he enjoyed telling) and his infamous words to her and her girlfriend who were stranded on the busy downtown circle of Indianapolis. He pulled up in his convertible, opened the door and said, “Get in.” Maxine and her friend, of course, refused to do so until the traffic horns started blasting. The girls had nowhere to go so they hopped in. Six weeks later, Jim and Maxine were married on July 10, 1951. They were blessed with four children: Jerie, Jimmy, Jamie and Jackie. During his military tour, he found his passion for teaching and upon his honorable discharge from the Army, he returned to KSU and earned his teaching degree in history and later a master’s degree in political science. He and Maxine moved to Colby, Kan., where he had his first teaching job at Colby High School and later taught at Colby Community College (CCC). He was one of the first teachers for CCC, teaching in the basement of the Community Building. Later, he took on coaching the men’s golf team for CCC, leading them to the national tournament. He loved his students and until even recently, he still received calls, visits and letters from many of them. In the early years of teaching, he and his friend, a fellow teacher, Lee Wieck, decided to supplement their income by building a house for sale each summer. Pechin and Wick Construction was formed. The business grew, but Lee moved to Colorado, so Wieck was dropped from the firm name, and Pechin Construction remained, building and remodeling residential and commercial buildings, including the Ascension on the Prairie Episcopal Church, of which he donated much of his own time, materials and labor. His business ventures didn’t stop there. Jim also developed land, the Eastern Heights and Indian Hills subdivisions, and owned several retail businesses during his years in Colby. In 1980, during the recession, the Pechins moved to Pagosa Springs, Colo. Jim and his son, Jimmy, continued Pechin Construction there until Jim retired from construction. They built over 100 structures in the beautiful Rocky Mountains in and around Pagosa. Jim could never quite retire. He took on small projects for business owners and friends alike. He even worked in the movie theater in Pagosa. He absolutely loved seeing everyone he knew coming to see a movie. He truly loved movies and he said that he had come full circle working in the theater. His first job was as a movie usher when he was just 12, and his last true job was behind the concession counter. Jim loved to travel around the country. He preferred to fly in his own plane, but otherwise drove. He would pack his family up every two years to travel to his army reunion, the AT&M Platoon of Comrades reunion. What a great group of men and their families. Reunions were held in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Oklahoma, Colorado and Missouri. Sixty-six years of tradition. In 2014, Jim and Maxine bought a little condo in Florence, Ariz., where they would winter, but stayed all of 2017 due to their failing health. Jim was a loving husband and father. He was passionate about football, especially his alma mater, Kansas State, as well as many professional teams. He was a true people person. He loved learning, teaching and telling stories. He was a ruthless gin player and got a kick out of beating “Ol’ Sol” (solitaire card game). He loved flying his own plane, playing golf, snow skiing and boating at Lake Trenton in Nebraska. He was a member of multiple organizations over the years and enjoyed volunteering his time and knowledge. He will be missed by many and we know he will always be in our hearts. Jim was a beloved son, brother, husband, father, uncle, nephew, colleague and friend. He was preceded in death by his parents, Ezra C. and Francis Kay Pechin; his siblings: Velma K. (Pechin) Esker, LeRoy (Buss) E. Pechin, Mary L (Pechin) Brown and Gordon A. Pechin. Jim is survived by his wife, Mary Maxine Pechin; his four children: Jerie (Chris) Husler, James (Betty) Pechin, Jamie (Greg) Appel and Jackie (Tom) Moran; 10 grandchildren: Jerron Bray, Joe Bray, Calley (Bray) Voth, Tonya (Pechin) Peterson, Nicky (Pechin) Black, Stacy (Pechin) Stroud, Ashly Albers, Amber (Albers) Favaregh, Brett Ford and Jessica (Ford) Kuros; two step-grandchildren, Mike and Marshall Stees; plus 18 great-grandchildren and multiple nieces and nephews. Per Jim’s wishes, there will be no services. Those wishing to give memorials are urged to consider donating to the CCC (Colby Community College) Endowment Foundation, 1255 S. Range Ave, Colby, KS 67701, in the name of James G. Pechin.

This story was posted on January 18, 2018.