James (Jim) Lewis Hilmes, age 88 passed away on August 31, 2019 at Via Christi Village, Hays, Kansas. He was born on October 30, 1930 in Ransom, Kansas, the son of Joseph and Mary (Kraus) Hilmes. He was raised on the family farm north of Ransom along with his two brothers and three sisters. He attended a one room elementary school near the family dwelling and graduated from Ransom High School in 1949.
James was extremely proud of his military service to his country. He enlisted in the United States Navy in 1951, ultimately serving on the USS Nereus, a submarine tender ship, in the South Pacific during the Korean War. He was honorably discharged in 1954 with the rank of Engineman Second Class. Upon moving to Great Bend, Kansas in 1955, he began a 42-year career with Bell Engine Service as a diesel fuel injection service technician. He served most of those years as the Diesel Fuel Injection Service Manager. He gained recognition as one of the most respected specialists in his field in central and western Kansas.
On January 23, 1956 James entered into marriage with Mary Catherine Seib at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Ness City, Kansas. James and Mary raised their five children in Great Bend and were parishioners of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church. James was also a member of the Great Bend American Legion. In 2000, after retirement, James and Mary moved to Hays, Kansas to be closer to family. There they became parishioners of Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church. They lived comfortably in Hays and ultimately moved to Via Christi Village in 2016.
James introduced his children and grandchildren to, and supported and furthered their interests in automobiles, off road motorcycling, camping, hunting and fishing, sports and nature activities of all kinds. He and Mary made many exciting and educational trips with their grandchildren. He was especially drawn to the natural beauties and wonders of the world, most enjoying his time spent in Colorado and Alaska with his family and siblings. James was a proud supporter of the Great Bend High School and American Legion baseball programs. During the time his two younger sons played baseball in the 1980's, he was personally responsible for building the batting cage used for many years at Veteran’s Memorial Park Baseball Fields. James was a master of trouble-shooting and repairing things of any size, shape or purpose. He was also a master of the local newspaper crossword puzzles.
In the eyes of his family and acquaintances James was a man of God, country, wisdom, courage and honor - a loving husband and dedicated father. As his health diminished in later years he met all challenges with no regrets.
James was preceded in death by his parents; a brother, Gerald Hilmes; two sisters, Joan Roths and Virginia Stoecklein; and a brother-in-law, Howard Roths.
James is survived by his wife, Mary Catherine, his five children, Terry Hilmes and his wife Kelly (Lawrence), Joyce Montelongo and her husband Joseph (Fort Collins, CO), Elaine Younger and her fiancé Brad Schaben (Bazine), Rodney Hilmes and his fiancé Kristie Chaney (Ardmore, OK), and Brian Hilmes and his wife Chelley (Edmond, OK); one brother, Ralph Hilmes and his wife Rita (Montrose, CO), one sister, Arlene Roths (Benton), a sister-in-law, Donna Hilmes-Hurn (Topeka), and two brothers-in-law, Jake Roths (Ransom) and Tom Stoecklein (Ness City); 9 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren.
Mass of Christian burial will be at 10:30 am on Wednesday, September 4, 2019 at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church with Fr. Justin Palmer officiating. Burial with military honors by the Hays VFW Honor Guard will follow in St. Joseph Cemetery. Visitation will be from 5:00 pm until 8:00 on Tuesday and from 9:30 am until 10:15 on Wednesday, all at Hays Memorial Chapel Funeral Home. A vigil service and rosary will be at 6:00 pm on Tuesday at the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to St. John's Chapel at Via Christi Village or the Great Bend American Legion Baseball Program. Condolences and memories of James may be shared with the family at www.haysmemorial.com
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