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James F. Putnam

July 2, 1937 — March 19, 2023

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“When the moon was small and there were very few stars…” That’s how Jim would start many of his stories about his childhood, especially to his granddaughters. He was the BEST storyteller. And right before he would deliver the punchline, the twinkle in his eyes would flash knowing that he had you reeled in, and then his big smile and laugh at the end. Jim would always say, “You know, I would talk to a fence post as long as it stood still.” It’s no wonder Jim had so many friends.

Jim was born in Dallas, SD on July 2, 1937, to Francis and Bertha (Determan) Putnam in a house made of sod and delivered by his beloved Granny. He grew up on a farm in south central South Dakota with no electricity or indoor bathroom. He was the fifth child of six children. He went to a one room schoolhouse through the eighth grade. His school bus was a horse. In order to go to high school, Jim had to move in to town which was 20 miles away and live at a boarding house. He graduated from Gregory High School in 1955. After high school Jim moved to Minneapolis, MN to work for his Uncle and Aunt selling home improvement products door-to-door. Jim was drafted into the Army in 1960 and served two years spending some of that time in France and Germany. He was Honorably Discharged from the Army Reserves in 1966.

In 1963 Jim married Judith McCance who graduated from Gregory High School in 1958 and then graduated from Sacred Heart School of Nursing in Yankton, SD in 1961. They had two children, Brian born in 1964 in Minneapolis, MN and Tracy born in 1965 in Burlingame, CA. From Minneapolis, Jim and Judy moved to Devil’s Lake, ND where he sold cars at his brother Joe’s dealership. Jim followed Joe out to California in 1965 when they decided North Dakota was too cold. Jim got a Pontiac dealership in Redding, CA in 1968. When that dealership didn’t work out, Jim moved his family to Denver, CO in 1970 where he was the General Manager for a big Buick dealership. In 1975, Jim took the family back to the San Francisco Bay Area and he went back to selling cars and being a Manager for Joe. In 1981, Jim bought a dealership in Visalia, CA that had 10 different franchises. He and his partner, Carl Windh eventually sold that dealership in the late 1990s and retired.

While Jim was running his successful car dealership in Visalia, he got introduced the sport of Cutting and Reined Cow Horse. He had previously owned a couple of trail riding horses and bought Tracy a nice Hunter/Jumper Thoroughbred show horse in the Bay Area. Now it was his turn. He was introduced to the legendary Reined Cow Horse trainer, Greg Ward. Greg sold him a little sorrel Quarter Horse stud colt, Sen Bar Chex… and that’s how Jim’s passion for the National Reined Cow Horse Association was set. Jim loved going down the fence!! And he loved cutting. He wasn’t so fond of the reining. He always said that the only reason he did the reining was they wouldn’t give him his fence cow without it. He quickly made many friends by telling his stories to any and all that would walk around the practice pen with him.

When the NRCHA faced financial difficulties in the late 1980’s, then President, Ted Robinson, asked for Jim’s help. He was appointed Treasurer and with the help of his friends, Carol Futran, Jon Semper and Matt Day they figured out a way to get the association turned around so Jim had money to watch. He was an active Board member for several years. In 2007 he was nominated as the first NRCHA Hall of Merit inductee. Jim competed as a Non Pro until 2012.

Jim owned a beautiful 25-acre horse ranch in Visalia. It had a covered arena, fenced pastures, two barns, a 24’ x 74’ swimming pool for the horses and a half mile race track. That was his sanctuary. Several current reined cow horse trainers started their first businesses on his ranch. Jim shared his cow horses with his daughter and both granddaughters. Lauren and Kelsey won many buckles while showing as youths. His daughter, Tracy, continues to show a horse they own together.

Jim and Judy were married for 44 years. Judy died in 2007 from Multiple Myeloma. His son, Brian died in 2012. Jim put the ranch up for sale in 2019 and started talking about moving to Texas. And so, with the help of Tracy and Jeff, he moved to Granbury, TX in 2021 with Tracy and Jeff nearby in Weatherford, TX. His ranch sold last year.

The week before Thanksgiving, Jim had to go to the hospital to be treated for pneumonia. While there he suffered a minor stroke that made it hard for him to speak. He was no longer able to tell his stories. Age and the onset of dementia finally caught up to him on March 19, 2023 when he passed peacefully in his sleep in his room at The Cove in Granbury, TX.

Jim is survived by his daughter, Tracy (Putnam) Lynch and son-in-law, Jeff Lynch in Weatherford, TX; granddaughter, Lauren Lynch in Oklahoma City, OK; granddaughter, Kelsey Lynch in Austin, TX; brother, Joseph Putnam in Woodside, CA; brother, Patrick Putnam in San Mateo, CA; and several nephews and nieces throughout the country.

Preceded in death by his wife of 44 years, Judith (McCance) Putnam; son, Brian Putnam; parents, Francis and Bertha Putnam; sister, Margaret Marwede; brother, Robert Putnam; and sister, Doris Miner.

A memorial service will be held at 10:00 a.m., Monday, March 27, 2023, at St. Stephen Catholic Chapel, 211 North Main Street, Weatherford, Texas 76086. Burial will follow at Memory Gardens Cemetery, Weatherford, Texas.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of James F. Putnam, please visit our flower store.

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Monday, March 27, 2023

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