In Memory

Jim Sayler - Class of 1992 VIEW PROFILE

Jim Sayler


Jim and Willie Sayler          


MISSOULA — The trout are wiggling just below the surface so that Jim can see them and nudge his hook and worm a little closer. A few feet away Willie absorbs the warmth of a good day’s sun while reading the good Louis L’Amour western novels.

So, it shall be, forever.

Jim Sayler was 91 years old when he passed away on Wednesday, October 24, almost 48 hours to the minute after his life’s partner, Willie Sayler died on Monday, October 22. They set the marriage and parental bars at an awfully high mark while wed for what would have been 68 years on Dec. 2. Only 5-foot-5 and 4-foot-11 (“and a half!”) in height, they were giants in example.

James “Jim” Roy Sayler was born on June 3, 1927, in Glen Ullin, North Dakota, the fifth of eight children to Gottlieb and Margaret (Shave) Sayler. The Saylers moved West, landing in Missoula in 1929, settling on 11th Street. Wilma “Willie” Lavina Bagley was born in Hamilton on January 9, 1930, the second of four daughters born to Charles and Ann (Turnell) Bagley. The family later moved to Anaconda before landing in Missoula in 1945, taking a house on 11th Street across the way from the noisy Sayler residence.

The teenaged Jim Sayler had been injured when mashed under a car that had slipped from the jacks during some backyard mechanic work. He survived, but injuries were such he was required to heal fractures while immersed in a body cast. So, his family provided constant attention, until one day, Gottlieb Sayler, had to catch the city bus to town. He sought someone to sit with his injured son while the errand was run.

Gottlieb Sayler had an idea. He strolled across the street and knocked on the door of the Bagley’s, and inquired, in his German brogue that accompanied the Prussian immigrant, whether “the little ‘Big-a-lee girl’ would be able to ‘come sit with my Jimmee.’ “

She complied, and much sitting ensued. The Saylers moved to Washington a few years later, but Jim returned to Missoula within months and married (“the little Big-a-lee girl) in 1950.

Jim Sayler had left school after eighth grade to help support his family in lean years, and Willie Sayler was a 1949 graduate of Missoula County High School. Jim Sayler worked various jobs before pumping gas for Missoula Coal and Oil early in his marriage as he and Willie welcomed sons Bruce James in 1952 and Kim Michael in 1956. The young family moved into a new home they were building on Kemp Street at the site where Jim proposed to Willie. The couple raised their boys in the home and stayed there until being moved for health reasons into The Village Pearl Garden assisted living facility this past spring.

Jim left Missoula Coal and Oil to work for what was then the Waldorf Horner Company in 1960 and stayed with the paper mill through many years, and the plant’s many name changes until retiring in 1992.

Jim and Willie were an inseparable couple, life partners and each other’s best friend with the fishing day trips and Jim’s cheering Willie on in her bowling, including nearly 50 years in the Wednesday Morning Coffee League at Liberty Lanes. Breakfast at Paul’s Pancake Parlor and, in more recent years, Paradise Falls was a nearly daily ritual until illnesses limited their activities in the past several months. They traveled some with relatives to destinations in the western U.S., and likely saw during their life together every Elvis Presley or John Wayne movie ever made.

Jim Sayler was preceded in death by his parents, brothers Marvin, Lloyd, Lyle, Bobby and Donald, and by sisters Viola and Irene. Her parents preceded Willie in death.

They are survived by sons Bruce (Eileen) of Butte and Kim (Lori) of Lolo; grandchildren Jay (Tisha) Dolan of San Diego, Kellie (Jeff) Peterson of Bozeman, Matthew (Jessika) Sayler of Butte, Emilie Sayler of Sheridan, Elizabeth (Josh) Hettick of Butte, Eric (Sarah) Sayler of Missoula and Julie (Steve) LaFromboise of Missoula.

They are also survived by 20 great-grandchildren — T.J., Katie, Evelyn, Genevieve, Kadyn, Ryan, Madison, Akausha, Ariana, Lavinia, Brandin, Kimberlie, Tucker, Brooklyn, Sophia, Jackson, Bailee, Ezekial, Jazmyne and Rain, and by Willie’s three sisters — Phyllis Bagley of Missoula, Cleo Wenger of Casa Grande, Arizona, and Dolores Heal of Helena.Also surviving are numerous favorite nephews and nieces.Jim and Willie will be remembered in a joint service Saturday, November 3 at 2 p.m. in the Garden City Funeral Home. Memorial donations may be made to Hospice of Missoula, any Alzheimer’s fund or a charity of the donor’s choice

Rest in Peace dear Friends.

Click here to see Jim's last Profile entry.