WHITEWATER-James A. Murdock

Lifelong Whitewater rancher, James (Jim) Alexander Murdock, 83, passed away July 8, 2018, in Malta, Montana, from congestive heart failure. He was born in Malta on June 3, 1935, to Scottish immigrants Alexander and Agnes (Hunter) Murdock. 

            Jim was raised on the family homestead north of Whitewater with his three elder sisters, Margie, Evelyn, and Kathleen (Ree), and little brother, Bill.  At the young age of 4, Jim and his siblings lost their mom to pneumonia.  Determined to keep the family together, the three sisters took over the mom duties and father, Alec, made it a priority to be home with all his children each evening.  Between Alec and his widowed sister Jean, 11 kids grew up on their family homesteads, a short pony ride apart. 

            Jim attended grade school at Plainsview and entered high school in Whitewater.  At 14 years of age, Jim had to forego school to help on the ranch while his dad recovered from kidney surgery.  During winter months, he and his siblings hand pumped water for 100 head of cows between feedings.

             At an early age, cousin Tant Anderson taught Jim and Bill how to haze the cattle back home on horseback prior to the building of fences. As a young man, Jim grew a love for good cattle and a handy sorrel horse, a love he passed on to his children, grandchildren, and now, great-grandchildren.  He broke many a good horse (like his Tony) and roped and rode well into his seventies. 

            Jim married Patricia Solberg on June 6, 1954, in Malta.  Pat joined him on the ranch.  After the loss of their father in 1956, Jim and Bill took over the ranch. Jim and Pat continued to make a home for their children: Jesse, Jimmy, Lexie, Jeffrey, and Kathleen.  Life was never easy for the family.  Jim picked up odd jobs to bring in desperately needed cash.  The near breaking point was met shortly after taking over the ranch.  Operating money ran out, and the bank turned down his loan request.  If not for the intervening of major bank stock holder, Fred Robinson, this family wouldn’t be here now.  Jim proved his worth trailing Fred’s yearlings in from the Frenchman to the stockyards in the dead of winter a few years before when no one else was willing.  He refused pay.  Fred never forgot.  Jim continued to operate the ranch until his death.

            Generations of family and friends helped celebrate the renewal of Jim and Pat’s vows on their 60th anniversary.  The event was all the more special as they were joined at the altar by his Best Man Bill Murdock and her Maid of Honor, the bride’s cousin, Maureen Kirwan.  Pat was escorted down the aisle in her original wedding dress by great-grandson Ty Murphy led by great-granddaughters as flower girls. Grandkids and great-grandkids knew him well and felt the love he held for each.

            Jim is survived by his wife of 64 years, Patricia, his sisters Marjorie Olsen and Kathleen (Ree) Simonson, brother William (Bill), and children: Jesse (Rebecca), James W (Nancy), Alexis (Ron) Haynes, Jeffrey (Athlene), Kathleen (Charlie) Carlson, and special son Joe (Tammie) Cartwright.  He is also survived by his grandchildren (Jerilyn, Mary, Kathy, Jane, Kate, Alex, Billie Sky, Lacey, Therese, Stacey, Hector, Daisy, Emma, Cally, Tristen, Jesse, and Blaize), his “adopted” exchange students from Mexico,  and numerous great-grandchildren, nieces, and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, sister Evelyn, sister-in-law Jeannette (Bill), and brothers-in-law Swede (Margie) Olsen, Roger (Ree) Simonson, and Lyle (Ev) Hanson.

            A visitation for family and friends will be held Friday, July 13th, 7pm, at Kirkwood Funeral Home.  Funeral services will be conducted by Pastor Bob Nagy on Saturday, July 14th, 1pm, at Malta Lutheran Church. Condolences may be left at www.kirkwoodfuneralhome.com.

Guest Book

From: Vivian Dolphay-Stolle

Pat and Family...so sorry for your loss. Jim was a wonderful person and will be deeply missed by all. He touched many lives.

From: Diane F Smith

Rest in Peace my old friend. Happy trails in green pastures.

From: Kathy Mayer

I am so sorry about the loss of Jim. He was a wonderful man, hard working, all-around good man, and he and Pat raised a whole bunch of kids who turned out beautifully!!
He was very proud of his "brood"! I am so sorry that I can't be there for the funeral; I can't drive anymore so I am dependent on Lori or Brandon to get me to wherever. I have a bunch of medical problems and I don't get to go many places. Just know that I am there in spirit and that you are all loved!


From: Edward Ostlund

This is late since I just now learned of Jim's departure, Hoping that all of the family gets this. Condolences from an old White Water native, and wife, Sarah.

From: Sherry/John Demarais

Sorry for your loss. Prayers and hugs for all.

From: Michael Fred & Nancy Ereaux

We were so sorry to hear about Jim. Sad to lose another cowboy & gentleman. He took time to do little things for so many and he always made time to visit. Jim was such a character & had such a good sense of humor.
Those old cowboys didn't like being cooped up so that rest home was a tough place for him to be. He's in a much better place now where every year is a good year & all the trails are easy to ride. Better than anything we've ever seen. Even though we know all that, it doesn't make us miss them any less.
Our thoughts & prayers have been with all of you --
Love & prayers,
Michael Fred & Nancy

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