James “Jim” DeTienne, 69, died peacefully on December 30, 2021 surrounded by loved ones at his home in Clancy, after a brave battle with multiple cancers.
Jim is survived by his longtime girlfriend, Dayle Perrin, son Jamie (Jaime) DeTienne (via marriage to Debbie Barnes), daughters Cassandra (Dan) Rawson, Kristi Harman, and Jessica DeTienne (via marriage to Doreen Helfert), and seven grandchildren: Christian, Rylen, Landon, Brooklyn, and Mackenzie (children of Jamie) and Mikayla and Kayley (children of Jessica). He is also survived by his siblings Genise (Lyle) Hancock, Glenda (Tiny) Jackson, Larry DeTienne, and Robbie Kavon as well as multiple cousins, nieces, and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents and a brother-in-law, Richard Kavon. The family knows that he joined them just in time to celebrate the annual DeTienne New Year’s Fondue Party.
Jim was born on November 10, 1952 in Williston, ND to Robert and Loraine DeTienne. He grew up in Plentywood, MT, where he graduated from Plentywood High School. He went on to study Biology at the University of Montana and received one of the first State Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certifications. He was very proud of being EMT004.
In his illustrious 40-year career, Jim served as the Sheridan County Disaster and Ambulance/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Coordinator, Sheridan Memorial Hospital EMS Director, Butte Regional EMS Training Coordinator, St. Peter’s Ambulance Service Director, Montana State EMT Training Coordinator, EMS Licensing Coordinator, and Montana State EMS & Trauma Systems Supervisor.
In 1988, Jim also became a reserve deputy with Jefferson County. He loved that job and did it ‘in his spare time’ on evenings and weekends. He retired as a reserve deputy only after his cancer diagnosis in 2021.
In addition to his state and deputy jobs, Jim also served as the President and past Vice-President of the National Association of EMS Directors.
Jim loved traveling. Two of his favorite trips were to Samoa to assist the small communities set up best emergency practices, and to Israel where he learned about their advanced practices for EMS – in bombproof underground bunkers. One of his favorite experiences was riding a camel in Jerusalem. He said he was ‘just an ass on a camel.’
One of Jim’s last professional goals was to ensure that Simulation in Motion Montana (SIM-MT) would be a viable, sustainable training resource across the state. The SIM-MT trucks include a full emergency room bay and full ambulance bay as well as ‘live’ adult, child, and infant mannequins. These mobile simulation trucks are designed as a full training module for EMS, fire, and first responders, especially in rural communities.
After that amazing accomplishment, he retired as the Montana State EMS & Trauma Systems Section Supervisor on August 11, 2020.
Jim loved computers and was very proficient in web design. At one point, he created a public facing website for the DPHHS EMS employees – with their high school pictures. Jim and his employees loved it; DPHHS Public Relations wasn’t as thrilled.
Jim had a dry sense of humor and quick wit. He loved the Monty Python movies, anything by Mel Brooks (especially “Spaceballs”), and the television show “The Office.” His employees and friends relate some good stories about the various “While Elephant” gifts he would give and receive during their holiday parties. His barbeque skills and homemade sauce were legendary in the family and at work.
Jim had many plans after retiring. On that day, he said that he wished he had spent more time with his children and grandchildren, as well as taking vacation days for camping and fishing. He was excited to take extended trips to Colorado to see his son Jamie. He bought a small fishing craft and had plans to purchase a camper so he could hang with his kids in their favorite spots. Before he passed, Jim was able to have ‘Cooking with Kayley’ nights where he taught his granddaughter Kayley to cook family dishes and she taught him how to cheat at cards.
One year and one day after his state retirement, he was officially diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, multiple myeloma, and thyroid cancer. He went through multiple chemo treatments but in the end decided to stop treatments and spend his remaining time at home with loved ones. One of his last experiences was to watch the movie “Elf.”
Jim requested no formal funeral services. His ashes will be distributed as Dayle and his children travel to the places he would have loved to visit. Jim asked that a Celebration of Life (with a BBQ, beer, and good whiskey) be held when the weather gets warmer.
Jim’s family would like to say thank you to the nurses of St. Peter’s Cancer Center and staff of Hospice. Your compassion and humor made his last few month’s easier on all.
Special note from Jim’s children: Dayle, we want to send you a huge thank you. You have been our honorary mom, friend, and mentor for over 30 years. You were dad’s rock and have been there through thick and thin. Everything about your presence in our lives has brought joy and love. Dad may not have been the effusive type, but know that he loved and appreciated you more than his words could say.
In lieu of flowers, Jim’s family asks that donations be made to the Partners United for Life Saving Education. (P.U.L.S.E), PO Box 511, Whitehall, MT 59759. Memo: Memory of Jim DeTienne.