James “Jimmie” Ristoff, 91, formerly of Miles City who was residing at the Eastern Montana Veteran’s Home in Glendive, Montana died February 11, 2014 at the Glendive Medical Center from ongoing medical problems.
Mr. Ristoff was born in Miles City, Montana on the family farm just north of town. Most people know the place as Pirogue Island now a days. Jimmie was the fourth of five children born to John Ristoff and Naumka Zadrovea Ristoff. He attended the old Garfield Elementary School and one year of High School.
Jimmie stopped going to school so he could help his parents tend the cattle and work in the family truck garden until he was inducted into the United State Army on November 17, 1944. Jimmie was always proud to tell people about his service in the Asiatic Pacific Theater and Luzon with the A Kita Military Government Team, where he was a light truck driver and chauffeured both commissioned officers and enlisted men. Jimmie received a Good Conduct Medal, Asiatic Pacific Medal, Army of Occupation Medal (Japan), Philippine Liberation Medal with one Bronze Star and a Victory Medal. He said he would never forget that day when President Harry S. Truman told the troops the war was over. He was honorably discharged on November 13, 1946.
When he returned home, he returned to the family farm and helped his parents until they sold the farm. When he was around 17 years old, he went after the cows about five or six miles east in the valley, he took the river path and came back later with a seal. He took two dogs along and when near the river saw the strange animal, which came up on shore. He gave orders to the dogs to watch while he went back to the house to get the truck and a canvas. Loading the seal in the truck, the animal, when approaching the house, hopped out, but was easily called back. Notification was sent to the Seibrand Circus that their AWOL seal had been located. Harry Clark, keeper of the seals, went out to the Ristoff place and traded $50 for the animal, the reward that had been offered. When he moved into town he worked for J.P. Johnson at the old Chevrolet Dealership on Bridge Street and followed the move to the east end of Main Street when Dick Richardson and later Mark Lohman ran the business. He worked for a short time for the Miles City Sanitation Service before he was hired at the Custer County Cemetery. He retired in October of 1984.
Jimmie gave up the bachelor way of life at the age of 61 and on August 23, 1984 he married Lydia Schlepp Bankey. After 26 ½ years of marriage, Lydia passed away February 23, 2011. He finally wasn’t able to care for himself any longer and moved to the Eastern Montana Veteran’s Home in April of 2013 where he was residing at the time of his death.
His survivors include his stepchildren Vern (Wanda) Bankey of Miles City, Karen Omdahl and Judy Jameson of Glasgow, sister-in-law Betty Ristoff of Vancouver, WA. He was grandpa and great grandpa to many and had numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, his brothers: William, Alex and Louie, sister Flora Ristoff, sisters-in-law: Pauline and Ira Jane Ristoff, stepdaughter Nancy Gauthier and his wife Lydia.
Visitation will be held on Tuesday, February 18, 2014 at Stevenson and sons Funeral Home in Miles City. Graveside services will be held on Wednesday, February 18, 2014 at 11:00 a.m. at the Custer County Cemetery with full military honors. Stevenson & Sons Funeral Home of Miles City is in charge of the arrangements. Condolences may be sent to the family by visiting: www.stevensonandsons.com.