James “Jim” Westom

James E. Westom (84) passed away peacefully on January 25, 2017 after a long battle with multiple cancers.  Jim was born on June 5th, 1932 in Minot, ND to Edward Westom and Elva Gilderhus . While stationed at Tinker Air Force base, he met Sue Ann Teague. Sue and Jim were married on August 12, 1957 and began their family.

Jim Graduated from High School in Havre, Montana and received his pre-aeronautical engineering certificate from Northern Montana College. Jim joined the Airforce through the Aviation Cadets Program where he served as a forward air controller, flying the LT6G in the Korean Conflict. He earned a distinguished flying cross (with other medals) for his combat missions in the Vietnam War where he flew the F-105 Thunder Chief and the F100 Super saber. Jim received his Bachelor’s in general education from the University of Omaha, NE. Jim was an instructor at Ellis Air Force Base and George Air Force Base for the F-4E “Phantom II”.  Jim retired from the Air Force in June 1972. Over his life span, Jim flew25 different types of aircrafts.

Jim briefly worked as a consolidated foods and environmentalist engineer before taking a position with Rockwell National Aviation Company, working in the Shuttle Aviation Integrated Laboratory with NASA. Jim often referred to himself as a “ground astronaut” in this position. He reported in his time at SAIL he had spent between 48,000-50,000 space shuttle orbiter simulator time in the 15 years he worked there. Jim retired from Rockwell in 1989 after Sue became ill and was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy.

Jim was a lifetime learner as well as a lover of nature and was always active, whether camping, site seeing, hunting or just spending time with his family. As a child Jim enjoyed pheasant and duck-hunting with his father, uncles and cocker spaniel “Bug”. Jim was actively involved in music in both his school and air force years, learning to play the clarinet, saxophone, organ, guitar, and the violin. Jim was proud to play the clarinet in the 1952 Inauguration in Washington D.C., with his Air Force band. Jim reported he even participated in a dance band in High School. Jim became a Christian as a child but with age his relationship with Jesus Christ became the center of his life and relationships.

After Sue passed Jim spent some time traveling with his dogs but soon found a soul mate in Judy and was married December 27, 2000. Judy and Jim spent much time traveling, camping, and staying active in the Gloria Dei Lutheran Church. Jim is survived by: Wife Judith Heuer Westom; Sons Brad and Kristian Westom of ID and Chad Westom of NV; Daughter Kelly and Tim Daywitt of NE, step daughters Cindy Green of TN, Carrie Ganter of WI, and Kim Owens of TX with 20 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren.

Visitation will be at Crowder Funeral Home, Clear Lake, Sunday Feb. 26.2017 from 2 to 4 pm. Memorial Service will be held at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church at 11:00 am Monday Feb. 27, 2017. Interment will be at Forest Park Cemetery at 2pm.

Memorials may be made to the American Cancer Society or the American Heart Association.


  1. So very sorry, Judy, to hear of Jim’s passing. You have my deepest sympathy.

    Donna Cryer
  2. Dear Judy, please accept my sincere condolences. RI am grateful for the witness and example Jim gave by his participation in Bible Study Fellowship. My prayer is that God will grant His peace snd comfort to you and all members of Jim’s family

    Ricardo de la Fuente
  3. It was my pleasure to work with Jim as I started my engineering career. I still remember some extraordinary simulated Shuttle landings that he completed in the SAIL avionics lab. Jim was always the model of a confident and pleasant technical leader in the harried environment of our test laboratory. I have always kept a mental picture of his pleasant and generous smile. I congratulate my friend for a life well lived. Please, allow me to express my condolences to his family for their loss.

    Jose' Carlos Alvarez, Jr.
  4. Sorry to hear the bad news. WE used to talk about several things. Have great memories. Rest in peace my friend.

    Serweshwer Mathur
  5. Sorry to hear about Jim. He wa one of my favorite friends in the SAIL.

    Ken B

    ken baker
  6. Willie Ragin Sorry to hear about Jim. He was one of the best in SAIL.

    Willie Ragin
  7. Judy we are very sorry to hear oh Jim’s passing. If you ever need some help please come get me thanks. John

    John Commiato
  8. I never realized just how much Mr Westom had accomplished in his life! I wish I had known so that I could have spoken with him about it. He was a real gentleman and a good friend of my parents. It was a pleasure to know him.

    Prof Kevin MacDonald
  9. Sending my condolences to Jims family on behalf of my mother Clara Gilderhus. Jim and her kept in contact over the years. Jim was my dads nephew .I met Jim a few times he was a nice man. I do remember how proud the relatives on the Gilderhus side were of his many accomplishments serving our country. Prayers to the family.
    Debby Gilderhus Nyby

    debby nyby

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