Schnider Funeral Home Great Falls Montana


James "Jim" Holcomb


James "Jim" Holcomb

Sep 21, 1945 - Oct 07, 2017

James “Jim” Morgan Holcomb passed away at 5:30 a.m. on October 7, 2017, in the arms of his beloved wife. He had been deteriorating for the past year with a diagnosis of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. He is now with his Lord and at peace.

A memorial service will be Wednesday, October 11, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. at Christ United Methodist Church. Schnider Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.

Jim was born September 21, 1945, and adopted by the family of Rev. Otha and Lydia Holcomb. His first home was Huntley, Minnesota. His early years with the pastoral family included moves to Merrils Grove and Hamburg, Iowa. While in Hamburg, a tonsillectomy, his first medical “experience,” was the foundation event for his professional life in the health services. Next was a move to Lusk, Wyoming, followed by another move to Kansas City, Kansas that returned the family to the midwest. He graduated from Wyandotte High School in 1963. A majority of his time in high school was devoted to participation in music performances and he played a trumpet in the orchestra, as well as sang with the acapella choir.  During his junior year he was selected to play the leading male role for the performance of the musical South Pacific.

His dad was called to become minister at the First Baptist Church in Great Falls, Montana, in the summer of 1963. He had planned to stay in the Kansas City area to continue his college education; however, he became homesick and moved to Great Falls after completing only one semester at John Brown University. He was accepted into the College of Great Falls, (now known as University of Providence) and graduated in 1967 with a degree in business administration. He worked two part-time jobs to gain business experience during college at The Paris and at Deaconess Hospital.

It was time for a steady job, but Uncle Sam had other plans. He was drafted into the Army on April 1, 1968, and was provided with an all-expense paid trip to Fort Lewis, Washington. He was not pleased with the accommodations. Trying to predict the future just meant going to Vietnam so he and his girlfriend made plans for a wedding after he completed basic training. On June 29, 1968, he married Mathilda “Tee” Neuhart in Trenton, New Jersey. He suspected that he was headed to Vietnam after completing Armored Personnel Carrier training, but soon orders came assigning him to West Berlin, Germany. Someone was watching out for him!

During his two year military assignment, he reflected upon his future employment options and was drawn to healthcare management. As his military time became shorter, he spent time exchanging correspondence with universities that offered Master’s degrees in Health Care Administration. He was accepted into the program at the University of Iowa and graduated in June 1972.

Jim’s first administrator position was at Harvard Community Hospital in Harvard, Illinois. This was a small rural community at the end of a commuter line into Chicago. His son, Brian, was born in Harvard in August 1973. His job was great, but it was not the location he wanted. He followed open positions in Montana until he found a company that had two management contracts in Montana. They were looking to expand. He hoped they could lead him to the perfect job and expected a better chance if he was working for them. He took the chance and ended up in Lovelock, Nevada. A year later, early 1976, he and his family were on their way to Shelby, Montana. Shelby operated from an aging building that had some undesirable life safety issues, a review of the property made the prospect for a new building a strong possibility. The County Commissioners proposed a 20 year bond which was approved by the county residents. While serving as Administrator, he was selected as a board member for the Montana Hospital Rate Review System. This board reviewed the charges and expenses being proposed for the coming fiscal year of each hospital in Montana.

To keep current on healthcare trends, he applied to become a member of the American College of Hospital Administrators (ACHA). This is a professional organization which provides continuing education to hospital administrators and other health care managers. An opportunity came open with Deaconess in 1983 and he applied. He became one of the Vice Presidents. He was responsible for the non-clinical departments and any building projects. He was a member of the 1985 Leadership Great Falls and also completed the necessary steps to achieve fellow status within ACHA. Jim served for 2 years as the Montana regent. He also had the opportunity to be part of a People to People tour to China to learn about their healthcare system. The hospital CEO took another position, and for 4 months he served as the Interim CEO. With the arrival of a new CEO, there was a reorganization of the management team. He then became the Senior VP, but that was short-lived when there was a hospital-wide reorganization. He lost his position. He spent the summer doing interim work in Seward, Alaska, then the fall/winter at Kalispell and Dillon, Montana, and then taking over at Missouri River Manor. This was a turning point in his career. He found out he enjoyed working with the elderly.

Jim and his wife, Tee later divorced. He later married Zita Takala on July 13, 1996, and moved to Sparks, Nevada. Clearly his life was a whirlwind ride! Life was good!

He is survived by his wife, Zita; son and daughter-in-law Brian and Shilo Holcomb of Great Falls; grandsons Charlie and Morgan Holcomb of Great Falls; daughter Sara Takala; son Matthew Takala of Great Falls; granddaughter Alyvia Hampton and grandson Isaiah Takala of Great Falls; sister and brother-in-law Cheryl and Randy Williams of Troutville, Virginia. He also leaves behind his beloved Irish Setter, Pepsi, and Springer Spaniel, Monty.

Jim was preceded in death by his parents.

Public Guest Book

Oct 10th
Donna Gladeau
Brian and Family,,,,,So sorry to hear of your Dad's passing. I enjoyed working with him at Toole County Hospital, he was a very kind and gentle man and he also gave me the opportunity to advance my work capabilities. You were just a little boy then, such a cutie! And your mother worked so hard when we moved to the new hospital location, what a nice lady. Please know that we are thinking and praying for all of you in your time of sorrow, God bless. Donna Norenberg Gladeau
Oct 10th
Wayne Blaine
So sorry to see this news. I repaired the X-ray equipment when Jim was administator in Shelby. He was the most considerate CEO I've worked for. During an equipment installation, when he learned it was my daughters birthday, he told me to go home (Great Falls), and enjoy that time with my family. He was a great guy.
Oct 10th
Lucy Stelling
I didn't know Jim as well as some, I am not family. However, I have been welcomed into the Holcomb home on countless occasions and often felt like part of their family. I was able to observe the dynamics he had with his beloved wife, children and grandchildren. He was the kind of guy often watching football on Sunday, Packers fan. Cabella's catalog on the table, boat in driveway. He often had a project he was tending to, painting something, fixing something (you know the type). At dinner Jim, his family and I would join hands and give a prayer of thanks. You would also see Jim caring for the grand kids, I remember him and the kids sharing love of ice cream in the evenings (that was their thing). He love all of his grand kids. I also ran into him several times at church, First United Methodist Church, where Jim sang in the choir just until the last couple of years. Many, many people knew him from his many years at Park Place as well I didn't know him from there... however he had a long favorable career with Kindred Healthcare. Everyone that knew Jim was fond of him but no one more than his wife... Zita. In sickness and in health… this is a love story that epitomizes that vow. God bless you Jim Holcomb… you will be missed by many. Thank you for always being so kind.
Oct 11th
Gary Ophus
This last week we lost a true gentleman. Definitely a loss for Great Falls. Jim demonstrated a kindness to all he encountered in such a way we could all hope to emulate. What a roll model. Thanks to family for sharing Jim.
Oct 12th
I was so saddened by the passing of Jim .. I first meet Jim and his daughter Sara at park place nursing home. My paths crossed zita and sara again in various places in the medical field as we changed jobs and as kids grew bigger and when Jim retired ..
I am saddened for the family and know u are in my thoughts during this difficult time .. it’s not easy I have been there with the loss of my dad and sister 8 months apart..
Sara and zita if u need anything please let me know and I am here for u all ..
Oct 12th
Vicky Jo Reeves
He was a kind and caring person. I am sorry for your loss.
Oct 16th
Sara (Beautiful)
My heart goes out to you and all of your family at this time. You know where I am and I am always here for you. All of you are in my prayers. Mr Jim was such a great man and I has always been my pleasure to have him also in my heart. I know he is now in the choir of our Lord. He will be your guardian Angel forever. Much Love my sweet and huge big Hugs
Oct 17th
Judy Richman
Jim was my administrator at Toole County Nursing Home. He really cared about patients, residents and staff. I respected him very much. I enjoyed seeing him at health care conferences after he left Shelby, and at church in Great Falls (where my daughter attends). My sincere sympathy to family.


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