James (Jim) Anthony Longin, 78, died peacefully on Monday, February 24, 2020, surrounded by family in his Port Angeles, Washington home. He fought briefly through the end stages of cancer with strength, humor, relentless positivity.
Jim was born to Charles Longin and Ann (Vavrosky) Longin on September 8, 1941, in Lewistown, Montana. His young life consisted of school at St. Leo’s, lots of baseball, and some good punches and lots of love for his brothers, Tom and Ed.
Although Jim was an outstanding student, sports continually motivated him. He excelled at basketball and track, but his true competitive passion was football, which he would go on to play at Carroll College for four years. Jim had unlimited success as a running back for the Saints from 1959-1963, while he also worked and lived at the St. Joseph’s Orphanage to pay for his education. He had many stories about his experiences at the orphanage, and his jobs there were a testament to his heart and perseverance.
As well as participating in athletics, Dad always loved to watch boxing (Muhammad Ali was his favorite) and to ride motorcycles, from jumping dirt bikes in the Little Belts to cruising on his Honda Gold Wing. Most importantly, Jim always had a deep belief and faith in God which guided him in good times and in tough times.
Earning his Bachelor of Arts in History from Carroll College, his Master of Education from the University of Montana, and his Doctor of Education from the University of Wyoming, Jim’s mantra was always “putting kids first” in all decisions. His ambition to create high-performing schools took him to Sunburst, the College of Great Falls, Fort Benton, Lewistown, Havre, Sheridan, Wyoming, Clallam Bay, Washington, and MSU Northern where he served as teacher, coach, bus driver, principal, curriculum director, assistant superintendent, and finally Dean of Education and Nursing.
The students, teachers, and schools were enhanced by Jim’s passion, diligence, and focus. Jim earned many accolades in his professional life including Montana’s “Educator of the Year” from Rotary International. He served as president for the Wyoming Association for Curriculum Development, Montana Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Montana Elementary Principals Association, and School Administrators of Montana. Jim also served his country in the Air National Guard for nine years while in Montana.
Jim and Mary Ellen Heggem of Winifred were married in 1964. They were blessed with three children; Michelle, Tony and Nick, and were married for twenty years. In 1988, Jim married Terri (Sanders) Guerechit and fully embraced the opportunity to help her raise her sons, Ben and Jon in Sheridan, Wyoming. The family moved in 1996 to Clallam Bay and finally, Port Angeles, Washington. Jim and Terri were married for thirty-two years enjoying a rich family life and fourteen grandchildren together.
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Besides working hard for his family, he worked industriously from 1979 until 2019 on his mountain cabin in the Snowies outside of Lewistown. His cabin was his respite, providing him with joy, energy, and fresh air. Building the cabin with a chainsaw began with Grandpa Charlie and created special moments for the two of them as Grandpa aged. It also became the place to enshrine all of Grandma Ann’s wonderful trinkets.
Jim reveled in sharing the cabin with his kids, grandkids, and extended family while constantly remodeling it and bringing it into the 20th Century with modern conveniences. He also thoroughly enjoyed working on cars of various vintages and the culture that went with that interest. He was very proud of his restored 1941 Chevy business coupe; his “jitney”, his 1986 Jeep Wrangler, and the beautiful 1932 Tudor home he lovingly refurbished in Port Angeles. He always said he had to “give it the rub of the brush.”
Jim is preceded in death by his parents, Charles and Ann Longin.
He is survived by his loving wife, Terri, Port Angeles, children, Michelle (Mac) Johnson, Helena, Tony (Colette) Longin, Great Falls, Nick (Brenda) Longin, Billings, Ben (Lindy) Guerechit, Edmonds, WA, and Jon (Darby) Guerechit, Bremerton, WA, and brothers Tom (Nancy) Longin and Ed (Sharon) Longin. His beloved grandchildren (ages 31-1) Kasey (Sandi), Adam (Lauren), Kendall and Alex; Olivia, Amelia, Gabe, and Rafe; Lily and Max; Lucy, Isabel, and Marigold; and Louie will dearly miss him.
Watching his grandkids in all their activities brought a big smile to Dad’s face. He traveled thousands of miles each year to attend plays and performances as well as football, volleyball, basketball, baseball games and track meets. Inevitably, he was especially proud of each grandchild’s achievement in the classroom, and the littlest ones were his “squees.”
Jim believed in hard work, and inspired others to work hard to be their best selves, love family and friends deeply, and love God with all their hearts. His wise words will continue to live on in us.
Funeral Mass will be held June 26, 2020 at 11:00 am at St. Leo’s Catholic Church in Lewistown, Montana with a reception to follow.
Jim’s memory would be honored by charitable gifts to the Father William Greytak Professorship Endowment of Carroll College, Helena, Montana at www.carroll.edu.
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