Obituary of James Jim Hiram Van Eaton
James "Jim" Hiram Van Eaton
Born to Flavel and Guy Van Eaton, on October 15, 1929, in Shellbrook, SK, Jim (James Hiram) Van Eaton was the youngest of 8 siblings. He passed away after a brief illness on April 18, 2023, at the Parkland Integrated Health Center, where he became an integral part of the facility, continuing to enrich the lives of his fellow residents, caregivers, and his community. His motto was “I just want to be useful!” and he most definitely was.
After schooling in Rayside, Jim’s parents sent him to Yakima, Washington State to attend High School, where he learned mechanics. In 1949, upon his return home, he worked as a mechanic at Fellow’s Garage, and in 1950, when his Dad died, he took over the family farm.
Jim married the love of his life Inez December 19, 1953, and together they were known as the local power couple, working hard together, but also playing just as hard to balance things out. While Inez taught school, Jim volunteered his time or worked at various jobs. From putting the first AC systems into tractors, running Jim’s photography studio and his own satellite business, doing trenching to houses to bring in running water or electricity - Jim did it all. A jack of all trades, he had brains, ingenuity, and great strength to get all his jobs done well. He had a love for technology and always owned the latest gadget and newest thing, such as the first automatic washing machine he bought for his mother or the latest iPhone 14 or Apple watch – he had to have it. Jim was one of a kind, well-known in Shellbrook for his sailor cap, his modes of transportation - cars, trucks, planes, a hybrid vehicle (which he loved to show off), and scooters he drove way too fast.
Volunteerism was his strength. A humanitarian at heart, he was one of the initiating members of the Shellbrook Credit Union, where he held account number two – number one he gave to his Mother. He sat on the Board of Credit Union Central for 40 years, until Inez asked him to quit so they could travel. Off they went in their Cessna Cardinal plane and made trips all over the US and Canada.
Jim also served as a volunteer firefighter and a volunteer for the Shellbrook and Districts Fundraising Committee. He and his friend Richard Porter, along with many other volunteers, had a dream for the beautiful Parkland Integrated Health Center, that we now enjoy and where he made his home for the last five years.
His most remarkable achievement was the creation of the STARS helicopter landing pad at the PIHC through his friendship with STARS Saskatoon Base Commander Barrie Tolmie. He also made friends with many politicians to create meaningful change for Shellbrook, such as pushing for an ambulance station in town. In his last years, he wrote a book about his life and was selected to join the SHA Provincial Patient and Family Partner Long-term Care Steering Committee as a valued advisor for issues affecting residents of Long Term Care. Jim served on multiple boards and Committees and received numerous service awards, including the Canada 150 medal and the Queens Platinum Jubilee medal.
At age 89, Jim went on his first overseas trip to Europe after recovering from a severe illness that put him in congestive heart failure - filled with excitement about new adventures. He loved his first cruise down the Rhine and Danube in 2018 so much, he went back for two more river cruises in 2019. With 15% heart function, he toured Europe and had the time of his life, making new friends and seeing new sights. He fulfilled a lifelong dream by attending an Opera in Vienna and was overwhelmed by the beauty of Europe’s castles, cathedrals, and countryside.
His most endearing quality was his beautiful and tender heart and his willingness to assist anyone who needed help. His temper often ran away with him but also gave him energy and strength to be useful to his beloved community of Shellbrook, which to him was the absolute best place to live.
Jim is predeceased by his parents, his loving wife Inez (nee Peterson), and all his siblings: Tony Roline Nutley, Bruce Van Eaton, Shirley Denton, Jo Bishop, Howard Van Eaton, Wallace Van Eaton, and Jack Van Eaton.
Celebrating the fullness and richness of his life are numerous nieces and nephews, his close friends Vi Spencer and sons, Ella Reidt and Elke Hutton, the Lafond family, and his many, many other dear friends.
A very special thanks to Dr. Christine Ryan and Calder, who visited and cared for him exceptionally. To his Caregiving team at the PIHC (Michelle, Brenda and Trina, and many others) who doted on him as well as his two co-residents and fellow musketeers Rita and Wilma, who became close friends and they all looked after each other during the pandemic.
Jim, you left a big footprint on Shellbrook and an even bigger one on our hearts. You will be so missed.
The Celebration of Life for Jim will take place on Thursday, April 27, 2023, at 2:00 p.m. from the St. John Lutheran Church in Shellbrook with Rev. Emmanuel Aristide as officiant. In lieu of tributes, memorial donations may be made in memory of Jim to the Shellbrook & Districts Health Services Foundation – Recreation Dept. (Box 33 Shellbrook, SK S0J 2E0).
For those family and friends who are unable to attend the Celebration of Life, St. John's Lutheran Church in Shellbrook, SK will have a live stream of the service from the parish's Facebook page:
Arrangements have been entrusted to the care of Beau “Lac” Funeral Home & Crematorium, Tammy Smart, Funeral Director, Shellbrook, SK 306-747-2828.