Obituaries: James Lawrence Bommelyn(1930-2007)

September 26, 2007 12:00 am
Bommelyn (Submitted photo).
Bommelyn (Submitted photo).

James "Jim" Lawrence Bommelyn, 77, died on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2007, at his home, surrounded by his loving family.

James, also known as "Papa," was born Jan. 31, 1930, in Redding. He was a member of the Nurl-muk Band of the Wintu Nation. James was the eldest son born to August Lawrence and Margaret Carter Bommelyn. James graduated from Trinity High School in 1947 and moved to Del Norte County in the summer of 1949.

Here he met and married the love of his life, Eunice Elsie Henry on Nov. 24, 1950. Jim began his lifelong career of working in the logging industry, as a logger, operator of all types of heavy equipment and truck driving. Jim was drafted into the U.S. Army and served primarily in the motor pool in the Korean Conflict from 1951-1953. Following his honorable discharge from the Army, Jim returned home to become a heavy equipment operator for Simonson's Lumber Company in Smith River for 30 years.

Jim worked for the Redwood National Park Services for approximately 10 years, and for the Del Norte County Roads Department for approximately 10 years until his retirement in 1995.

Papa was known for his fantastic knack for telling jokes and stories, complete with voice impersonations. He was known as "Coyote" because of his love to tell coyote stories. He was a natural genealogist and historian. He was one of the friendliest people many would ever meet. He could strike-up a conversation with anyone, including complete strangers. One of his favorite sayings was, "Who couldn't love a dog?"

Papa financially supported organizations for protecting animals, wildlife and the earth. If he was not donating to a foundation, he was writing a letter to Jay Leno or the President of the United States. There was nothing he could not fix or repair. Papa knew how to prime the pump, put the gravel drive in and plumb the toilets at the Smith River Shaker Church. Papa taught his sons and grandsons how to hunt deer and take care of guns and equipment. For 56 summers, Papa set up and watched over our smelt camp (Lhvmsr Lhat-xat).

He taught us honor, respect and love. The song, "Daddy's Hands" tells it all about the kind of man, friend and companion he was to everyone. We all know that Papa loved each and everyone of us and we believe he knew how much we loved him.

Jim was preceded in death by his mother Margaret "Grama Dood"; his father, August L. Bommelyn; his brother, George McNeil, Sr.; paternal grandparents Martin and Bertha Bommelyn; his maternal grandparents James and Margaret "Mominy" Nichols Carter; and foster daughter, Cleda Christine Smith.

Jim is survived by his wife of 56 years, Eunice; his children, Vicki Bommelyn, Sheryl Steinruck, Loren Bommelyn, and William Bommelyn, Sr., all of Del Norte County; his siblings, Mary D. Vaughn of Weaverville, Dora "Dolly" Elston of Happy Camp, Margaret Dietrick and husband Harry of Eagle Point, Ore., David and wife Betsy McNeil, Sr. of Oak Run, Henry "Jack" Bommelyn of Colorado, and Lawrence Bommelyn of Crescent City. His descendants include 13 grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren. In addition, he has numerous loving nieces and nephews.

The family would like to thank Sutter Coast Intensive Care, Dr. Shieko, Gabriela and Chris; Karen of the Health Care Unit and the staff at United Indian Health Services Howonquet Smith River Clinic. They would especially like to give Doctor Jennifer Betts a huge thank-you-so-very-much for taking them through this very difficult time.

Funeral services will be held at Wier's Mortuary Chapel on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2007, at 1 p.m. Public viewing will held on Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2007, from 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. Internment will be at the Howonquet Indian Cemetery. Following the burial service, friends and family are invited to the Howonquet Hall Community Center.

Arrangements are under the direction of Wier's Mortuary Chapel of Crescent City.