Cover photo for James Jessen's Obituary
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1940 James 2016

James Jessen

November 24, 1940 — December 3, 2016

James Dean Jessen of Wise River, Montana, passed away at his home on December 3, 2016. He was born on November 24, 1940 to Reuben and Christine(Neve) Jessen in Niobi, North Dakota. He attended school in Kenmare, North Dakota where he excelled as an athlete, particularly basketball. His anticipated college basketball career was sidelined in the spring of his senior year of high school by a significant knee injury. His plans changed abruptly, so instead of four years of college studies and basketball, he enrolled in trade school studying plumbing and pipefitting followed by an enlistment in the United States Marine Corps. His marine duty was cut short, however, due to that knee injury and he was honorably discharged. His love of math brought him back to Minot State College. It is here where he met and married Sandra Diane Hove in 1964. Following Sandra's graduation, they moved to Dickinson, North Dakota where she began her teaching career and he finished his math degree at Dickinson State College. While in Dickinson, they welcomed the birth of their daughter, Kiza. Upon graduation, he moved his family to the Crosby-Noonan area where he and Sandy both taught school. In 1967, they both accepted teaching positions in Ennis MT. It is here that his lifelong love of Montana began. He also began his successful coaching career here as well. In 1968, they welcomed the birth of their son, Brooks. Several years later, he accepted a coaching and teaching position in Mohall, North Dakota to be closer to the Jessen family. In 1978, the lure a a new career came to play. With his unique background of plumbing/pipefitting combined with a math major, he secured a promising position as a piping foreman, soon to be promoted to piping superintendent. He worked with Catalytic, Inc, Kaiser Engineers, and Combustion Engineers where he oversaw the piping construction at the gasification plant in Beulah, North Dakota. The family resided in Underwood. In 1988, he and Sandy divorced and the construction industry came to a standstill. He found himself on another adventure to El Paso, Texas. This is where he spent the last ten years of his career, teaching higher math at El Paso High. In 1998, he retired to his own little piece of paradise in Wise River, Montana near the Big Hole River. In his final years he was fishing and hunting and enjoying all Montana has to offer. There were many family outings with his children and grandchildren. He and his furry companion, Tucker, spent countless hours on mountain drives. He loved FOX news and was involved in many chat groups. He had a passion for computers and any new technology. One of his greatest passions, though, were the Chicago Cubs. The "Cubbies" brought home the series for him this fall. He was ecstatic! He was preceded in death by his parents, Reuben and Christine Jessen; His sister, Allene (Jessen)Halabuk; his brothers Ted Jessen and Darold Jessen; and a nephew, Jeff Jessen. He is survived by his daughter, Kiza Jessen of Kalispell, Montana; his son and daughter-in-law, Brooks and Sandy Jessen, Missoula, Montana; his brothers Lavern Jessen and Bruce (Patty) Jessen both of Dickinson, North Dakota; grandchildren, Terra Smith of Spokane, Washington; Connor Hogan, Kalispell, Montana; Logan and Pride Jessen, Missoula; five great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews. A memorial picnic will be held at a later date near the Big Hole River. The family is being cared for by Brundage Funeral Home, Dillon, Montana.
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