In the early morning hours of January 20, 2021, Jim peacefully passed away at the age of 93 years old.
James David Bickle was born in Ismay, Montana on November 28, 1927. He was the oldest of three children born to David and Evelyn (LaBree) Bickle. Jim attended grade school in the country school down the road from the ranch and high school in Baker, Montana where he graduated in the spring of 1945. While he was in high school, Jim met a cute little Swedish gal named Wanda Atkinson from Ekalaka, MT. They were married on December 21, 1945. Jim was just 18 and Wanda was 17.
Dad was a true Montana rancher and cowboy all his life. He really loved a good horse for either ranching or rodeo. Jim was an excellent horseman and broke countless colts to ride and work with on the ranch.
As much as he loved the ranch, he also recognized that sometimes as hard as you worked, the payoff was just not that great. Still undeterred, for over 60 years he and Wanda made their home and livelihood on the Bickle Ranch Company. The family ranch was a source of immense pride for Jim and he put his heart and soul into it. He was an exceptional cattleman and always produced calves of top quality. He was even an experimenter of sorts. He decided to bring in some breeding variety into his cattle herd. He purchased some Chianina cattle (Italian breed known to be some of the biggest cattle in the world) to cross with his Angus herd. He was hoping for some good big calves from this cross. He got big calves, alright and all the calving problems to go with it! Little did he know how wild these cattle were! Years later he laughed about it and said it was just a big rodeo day after day with all of us on horseback running after them and then watching them tear through the fences! He wasn’t in the Chianina cattle business too long needless to say!
Jim and Wanda always loved dancing. Early on in their marriage, they enjoyed square dancing all around the community and surrounding areas. As they neared retirement, they began to follow the Old Time Fiddlers group and traveled all around Eastern Montana to attend dances with beloved friends. Jim and Wanda retired to Miles City in 2002. They thoroughly enjoyed living in Miles City and especially being able to spend quality time with their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Jim also loved being in Miles City because there were so many more people for him to visit with. He loved to take walks which ended up taking hours because he had to stop to talk to everyone he ran into! Jim’s family and friends can all attest to how much he liked to visit with people. He was a warm and caring man and would “talk to a fence post” if he thought it would talk back to him!
Four children, Peggy, John, Carrie and Heidi were born to Jim and Wanda, and all were raised on the family ranch. Jim was so proud of all of his kids. He and Wanda were their kids’ biggest supporters in whatever activities they were involved in. Whether it was band/chorus, basketball, track, football, wrestling or rodeo, they often made long trips to cheer on and support the kids in those endeavors. He was a good and loving father and his kids knew they were loved.
Jim was preceded in death by his wife Wanda, parents David and Evelyn and his siblings Lynn Bickle and Harold (Hallie) Bickle. Jim is survived by his children: daughter Peggy (Jim) Hagadone of Plevna (Peggy passed away after the writing of this obituary), son John (Jan) Bickle of Plevna, daughter Carrie (Sally) Bickle of Walnut Creek, CA, daughter Heidi (Todd) Yeager of Buffalo, WY. He is also survived by six grandchildren: Mindi Murnion, Micki Hallgren, Scott Hagadone, Kristin Hagadone, Kaylee Yeager, Ashley Yeager and Bailey Yeager. Jim is survived by six great-grandchildren (Justin, Jake, Karlee, Brooke, Isabella and Addison) and two great-great grandchildren (Justice and Kembri). His also survived by countless cousins, nieces and nephews and cherished friends, all who were very special to him.
The family wishes to thank the staff of Superior Care in Baker for their care of Dad over the last two years. Michelle, Marcy, Melissa and the rest of the staff were like family to Dad. He loved them and loved to tease them. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts as you all kindly cared for Dad in his last days with such love and compassion. We are forever grateful.
A graveside service will be held on Tuesday, June 22, 2021 at 2:00 p.m. at the Custer County Cemetery in Miles City. A celebration of life will follow at the Parlor, 1806 Main Street. Everyone is invited. Condolences may be sent to the family by visiting: www.stevensonandsons.com.
Should friends desire, memorials may be made to the charity of one’s choice.