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Born Jan. 12, 1925, in Chicago, Ill., to Winifred and Roy W. Estell, Jim attended high school at West High School in Love’s Park, Ill., and Northwestern Naval Academy in Lake Geneva, Wis., until he was drafted. He served in the U.S. Navy first as a boot camp instructor, then as a gunner’s mate on a destroyer escort in both the Atlantic and the Pacific.
After being discharged in 1946, he farmed until he joined Woodward Governor in 1955, a Rockford, Ill., company that his father helped form. Jim began as a machinist, and then moved into the repair and field service departments, traveling different parts of the country and setting up repair departments in the U.S. and on two other continents. In 1966, Jim was transferred to Fort Collins, Colo., where a new plant had been built.
He repaired different types of governors on planes, ships, dams — any type of engines that needed speed controls. He also spent seven years working on the yard crew because of his love for the outdoors. When he retired after 35 years, Woodward still retained his services to set up more repair departments in other countries.
As Jim drove into Pagosa in 2000 on a trip, he fell in love with the area and knew this was where he wanted to live. He immediately became involved in various activities like hiking, snowshoeing, woodworking and fixing the neighbors’ yard equipment. He volunteered at Pagosa Bible Church, Chimney Rock Archeological Area and Archuleta Seniors, Inc., where he drove seniors to medical appointments in Durango, sold ASI memberships, helped in the kitchen and was a former director. With his engaging smile and happy attitude, Jim loved helping people and will be missed by many.
Jim is survived by his wife, Judy; daughter, Kathy (and husband Dave); son, Mike (and wife Corinne); four grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Charlotte; his brother, Bill; two sisters-in-law, Doris and Shirley; and his parents.
A Remembrance will be held in Jim’s honor at the Senior Center on Feb. 25, at 1:30 p.m. Please come and share your memories and stories with us.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Archuleta Seniors, Inc.