James Bert “Jim” Willuweit: 1945-2018
James Bert “Jim” Willuweit was born November 10, 1945, to Bert and Nellie (Connelly) Willuweit in Quinn, South Dakota. He attended Big White School through the 7th grade and then attended Quinn School followed by Wall High School where he graduated in 1963. As a young man Jim was active in 4-H and basketball. At 15 years of age Jim won the National Little Britches Bareback title.
Jim attended South Dakota State University from 1963 to 1965. He took deferment from college to help his father on the ranch and in 1965 was drafted into United States Army. He served in Vietnam as a special communication operator and combat soldier until he was honorably discharged on September 9, 1967. Jim said his proudest accomplishment was serving his country.
Following his time in the service, Jim enrolled at Black Hills State University where he excelled on the rodeo team. In 1968, Jim was the Regional Champion Bareback Rider and Reserve Champion Bull Rider and was crowned the College National Finals Reserve Champion Bareback Rider. He was inducted into the BHSU Rodeo Hall of Fame in 2014 for these accomplishments. He also was a SDSU Rodeo Hall of Fame member.
Jim’s love of rodeo turned into a fulltime passion where he was honored to participate in the 1969 National Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City in the bareback and saddle bronc events. He was a role model for many up and coming cowboys who admired his riding techniques. He continued to rodeo through the early seventies until returning home to the ranch which he operated until his time of death. In addition to running the ranch, Jim was a licensed pilot and a licensed real estate agent.
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Jim’s love of the animals led him to invest in a racehorse, JW Blade. This special race horse was trained by a Gordie Olson, Jim’s cousin. JW Blade won numerous races and was one of the highlights of Jim’s life.
Jim was a quiet, caring, considerate, generous, and brilliant man. His grin was infectious and the twinkle in the eyes spoke more than his words. Jim often gave a big wink and a gentle squeeze on the shoulder as a sign of approval and always had a Milky Way or a Pepsi to share!
Grateful for having shared his life is his sister, Connie (Dennis) Keil; nieces, Misty (Gene) Drewitz, Brandy (Dean) Daniel, Jami (JT) Moon, and nephew Will (Mari) Willuweit; great-nieces, Hannah, Lucy, Emmy and Ella; great-nephews, Danny, Philip, Haden, Johnny, Aaron and Ole; his mischievous uncle, Lawrence Connelly; and many relatives and friends.
Jim was preceded in death by his parents, and his brother Jerry.
Visitation was held 4-6 p.m. on Wednesday, January 17, at the Rush Funeral Chapel in Wall, with a vigil service at 6 p.m.
Mass of Christian Burial will be held 10 a.m. Thursday, January 18, at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Wall, with Father Tim Hoag as celebrant.
Interment with military honors will be held at the Quinn Cemetery.
A memorial has been established to the Black Hills State Rodeo Club and the Wall High School Rodeo Team.
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