Reverend James (Jim) Jirak Tillberry, 87, of Hallock, Minn., went home to his Lord Jesus on Feb. 13, 2020. He will be remembered for his quick wit, big heart and commitment to seeking and sharing truth and wisdom.
Jim was born in Milwaukee, Wis., on May 30, 1932, to Thomas Jordan and Helen Ann (Jirak) Tillberry. Jim graduated from Waukesha High School in 1950 and enlisted in the U.S. Navy from 1950-1953. He served as an Ensign 3rd class and worked in the engine room on U.S.S. Gilmore and the submarine U.S.S. Trumpetfish. Jim went to school at Milwaukee College, Grand Rapids School of the Bible and Music, and Oak Hills Bible College, where he studied the Bible and theology.
A man with many interests and skills, Jim served as a mail carrier with the U.S. Postal Service, a worker at a wild rice plant and grain elevator and a school bus driver. Most importantly, Jim enjoyed his 33 years of service as a pastor. He passionately dedicated his life to and worked as God’s good and faithful servant to churches in the communities of Comstock Park and Mesick in Michigan, and Winona, Boy River, Leonard and Bagley in Minnesota.
In 1959, Jim married Lora Jean Jester, on Sept. 19 in Waukesha, Wis. They celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in 2019.
Jim is survived by his loving wife; the five children he raised with Lora: Lori Jean (Mark) Danielson of Mansfield, Texas; Linda Sue Confer of Rockford, Ill.; Thomas Carroll (Kimberly) Tillberry of Fridley, Minn.; Lisa Marie (Brett) Roberts of Belmont, Mich.; LeAnn Joy (Paul) Gatheridge, Humboldt, Minn.; and grandchildren: Erik Danielson of Boston, Mass.; Ethan Danielson of Fort Worth, Texas; Natalie (Alex) Hanna and Aaron Confer of Rockford; Miranda Confer of East Grand Forks, Minn.; Paul Tillberry of Fridley; Kendra (Jordan Freitag) Tillberry of St. Paul, Minn.; Lyssa Daniels of Grand Rapids, Mich.; Moya, Sophia and Josee Roberts of Belmont; Thomas Jordan (T.J.), Lora and Katelyn Gatheridge of Humboldt.
Jim was preceded in death by his parents and older sister, Nancy Helen (Tillberry) Winter.
In every community he belonged to, Jim made sure everyone felt appreciated, understood and loved. Most recently, in his nursing home community in Hallock, he served as the president of resident council.
He will be deeply missed by the many people he’s helped and impacted over his 87 years of life.
Memorial services will take place Tuesday, March 10, 2020, at 10 a.m., at Pembina Evangelical Free Church in Pembina, N.D.
Austin Funeral Chapel, Hallock, is in charge of the arrangements. www.austinfuneralchapel.com.