Sillas James “Jim” Sillasen, age 93, of Ogallala, NE. formerly of Keystone; died Wednesday, September 6th, 2023 at Wel-life Health Care in Ogallala, NE.
Jim was born on July 15, 1930, to Andrew and Mabel (Krab) Sillasen in Sutherland, NE. He was raised on the family ranch east of Keystone, where he continued to live throughout his life. Jim recalled that as a young child, his first job was to feed the cats and the chickens and bring in wood for the cook stove. He was the third generation of the family to manage the ranch and all the employees who were hired to feed cattle and put-up hay.
He met his future wife, Verna McGreer, at a dance in Paxton. They married in Big Springs, NE on June 10, 1951. Jim and Verna had three children: Kathleen (Creighton) Miller, Joanell (Ron) Klug, and Lee (Brenda) Sillasen. They raised their family on the ranch and took in more than one youth who needed a home. Jerry Craghead and Cal Peters were two such young men, who initially came to work on the ranch and then became part of the family.
Jim was always busy on the ranch, from checking the cows in the hills to supervising the work in the hayfield. If one of the kids had too much fun on Friday night, he was sure to have a good job waiting for them on Saturday morning. The kids laughingly recall having to move cattle or clean out a tank, among other things, on many a Saturday morning. Jim was always able to find one of the grandkids a job to help them, as he said, build character. He never knew a stranger and was often found visiting with a friend he had just met. Jim could always be counted on to be at the sale barn in Ogallala. He was there every week to catch up on the latest news at the round table.
In his later years, Jim could often be found on the golf course, playing with his buddy, Cal, and his son-in-law, Creighton. He was well known to be the only golfer with golf spikes on his cowboy boots. He loved horses and rode his whole life until he switched to his trusty Honda Rancher. As a child, he rode his horse four miles, uphill both ways, in the snow, to go to school and return home.
In 2016, Jim and Verna moved to assisted living in Columbus, NE to be near their daughter, Joanell, and her family. It was the first time he had lived anywhere but the ranch. In 2017, they returned to Ogallala and moved to Wel-Life Assisted Living. At Wel-Life, he enjoyed keeping the staff on their toes. One incident involved Jim utilizing his golf club to launch a frozen cherry tomato. The tomato soared down the hall into Charlotte’s office and splatted on her desk. Jim had the privilege of cleaning up the mess.
Jim is survived by his children; Kathleen (Creighton) Miller, Joanell (Ron) Klug, and Lee (Brenda) Sillasen; his grandchildren: Andrew (Lynnette) Klug, Angela (Derek) Maursted, Karleen (Chad) Muhle, Darcey (Karl) Saxton, Stacy (Gordon) Decker, Jason (Elizabeth) Sillasen and Erin (Lucas) Sillasen-Banks; thirteen great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews, many friends - including all the folks who cared for him at Wel-Life.
Jim was preceded in death by his wife, his parents, a sister Donna (Herb) Ledbetter, his parents-in-law, Coyle and Clara McGreer, and two brothers-in-law, Wilber (Pat) McGreer and Harold, “Mick” (Virginia) McGreer.
Visitation will be Tuesday, September 12, 2023, from 9:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. with family greeting friends from 4:00 P.M. to 6:00 P.M. at Draucker Funeral Home Chapel in Ogallala, Ne.
Services will be held Wednesday, September 13, 2023, at 2:00 P.M. at Draucker Funeral Home Chapel, officiating will be Ron Jay.
Inurnment will be in the Ogallala Cemetery, Ogallala, Ne.
A memorial has been established for the Paxton Volunteer Fire Department.
The service will be live-streamed at www.drauckerfh.com.
Condolences may be left online at www.drauckerfh.com.
Draucker Funeral Home has been entrusted with arrangements.