Cover photo for James Hamilton's Obituary
James Hamilton Profile Photo

James Hamilton

February 25, 1940 — February 20, 2023

James "Jim" "Red" L. Hamilton passed away peacefully with family at his side in Kalispell on Feb. 20, 2023 after a long battle with dementia.

Jim was born on Feb. 25, 1940 in Spokane, Washington to parents Clark and Ruby

Hamilton. Jim was raised on the family farm with brothers Ron and Wayne in Rockford Washington, graduating from the first ever class at the new consolidated high school in Freeman Washington in 1958. Jim went on to earn a degree in building theory and practice from Washington State University in Pullman, Washington in 1963. While at WSU, Jim was part of the WSU fire department where he made a large number of lifelong friends and shared numerous activities and fond memories.

Jim met his first wife, Lana Orr, while at WSU and they were married upon their graduation in the summer of 1963. At the same time Jim started what would end up being a 33-year career working for the U.S. Forest Service as a contracting officer. Jim and Lana had two children together, Dean and Teresa, born in 1965 and 1966. Jim and Lana would move to many cities in Washington, Oregon and Washington D.C., as Jim followed his career in the Forest Service before eventually ending up in Missoula in 1977.

As an avid elk hunter and outdoor enthusiast, Jim had found his forever home. Jim spent many years enjoying all the Montana outdoors had to offer with family and friends. He never quite figured out how to manage to take the entire hunting season off each year, but it was not for a lack of trying. Jim and Lana divorced in 1983.

Jim would go on to marry the love of his life, Judy Yawn Fitzpatrick, in 1987. Jim and Judy spent many wonderful years together in Missoula finishing up both their careers with the Forest Service and then retired to a home they built on the shores of Flathead Lake near Bigfork in 1995.

Jim and Judy embraced retirement together with each enjoying their favorite activities both individually and together. Jim continued to be an avid elk hunter and hiker, while Judy enjoyed being an active crafter and quilter in the Flathead Valley. Together Jim and Judy were active members of their church, were volunteers at the Bigfork food bank for many years and also volunteered with the Bigfork Lions Club serving countless shakes and burgers to folks at the Flathead County Fair. During this time Jim and Judy earned many lifelong friendships in the Flathead, and enjoyed many joyous events with their collective family and friends at their house on Flathead Lake. Jim enjoyed his role as grandfather to 28 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.

A memorial service for Jim will be held Friday, March 31, 2023 at 1 p.m. at the Swan River Community Hall in Echo Lake. Friends are encouraged to visit our website at to leave notes of condolences for the family. Buffalo Hill Funeral Home and Crematory caring for the family.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of James Hamilton, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Friday, March 31, 2023

Starts at 1:00 pm (Mountain time)

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Swan River Community Hall, Echo Lake


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