James “Jim” Willman


James Earl Willman, 83, died peacefully in his sleep on Jan. 19, 2020, at Prairie View Healthcare Center after a brief illness.  

A family service will be planned  at a later date.

Jim was born on the ranch 17 miles west and two miles south of Wessington Springs on June 30, 1936, to Arnold and Louise Willman. He graduated from Wessington Springs High School in 1954.

After returning home following a two year enlistment serving his country in the US Navy, Jim met and later married Echo Faye Pickner. They were wed Sept. 1, 1959. They ranched with his father and brother. They were blessed with two children, Darrel and Gary.

After working as a welder and pipefitter in Colorado and Iowa, Jim moved his family back to South Dakota in 1977 and pursued his dream of owning a business. He operated Jim’s Welding Shop, and later Our Own Hardware in Woonsocket.

Echo was tragically taken from him on Sept. 21, 1977.

He married Sheila Beem (nee: Kirby) in 1984, and they resided in Huron and Woonsocket until he moved to Prairie View Healthcare Center.

Jim enjoyed camping, fishing, and spending time with his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.   He also enjoyed telling stories to his grandchildren and great-grandchildren about his and his brother Lloyd’s early years on the Willman Ranch and working on the building of Big Bend Dam. He had a passion for tinkering and rebuilding anything mechanical in his garage.

Jim is survived by his wife, Sheila; sisters, Betty (Keith) Gunderson of Wessington Springs and Darlene (Duane) Robison of Miller; his two sons, Darrel (Jackie) of Jefferson City, Mo., and Gary (Sandi) of Woonsocket; five grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; brothers-in-law, Jim Pickner of Springfield, Larry Pickner of Arapahoe, Colo., and Troy Pickner of Yankton; sisters-in-law Gail Willman of Wessington Springs, Twila Kotilinek of Wessington Springs, and Sharon Fletcher of Hill City; and  many nieces and nephews.

Jim is preceded in death by his wife, Echo; his brother, Lloyd; his parents, Arnold and Louise; and brothers-in-law, Duane Robison and Richard Kotilinek.

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