James "Papa" Ernest Van Nice

James "Papa" Ernest Van Nice

James "Papa" Ernest Van Nice, 73, of Missoula, passed away on Sunday October 22, 2017 at his home. He was born on November 15, 1943 in Laurel Montana.
He attended Laurel Senior High from 1957-61, where he showcased his extraordinary singing talent in the exclusive performing group, the Laurelaires. He then attended Eastern Montana College, which he majored in beer drinking and chicks. On January 29th 1963, he proudly joined the U.S. Navy, where he excelled as a pharmaceutical corpsman. While in the Navy he enjoyed his time in San Diego and in the "drinking bush" at Camp Pendleton. After the Navy he moved back to Laurel Montana with his prized car, an MG Migit. He was working at Deaconess Hospital where he met his first wife, Judy Brooks. Together they had a daughter Jennie. After they divorced he moved to Missoula and attended the University of Montana School of Pharmacy.
In the summer of 1974, Jim met the love of his life and best friend, Lizzie, while working at K-mart together. They were each other’s "Blue Light Specials". They married on July 30, 1977 and settled in Missoula where they enjoyed raising their four children. To accommodate their growing family, Jim and his friends added a second story to the family home. The infamous Van Nice home on Walnut Street became, and still is, a welcoming home full of love to all. Some of his proudest moments were watching his kids and grandkids gain his quirks and unique personality. Over the years Jim and Liz extended their love and mentored many kids who are now family.
He enjoyed evenings on the front porch smoking his cigarettes and drinking his beer while chatting with friends and family or even strangers strolling by. He found great joy in family gatherings, cheering on the Griz, boating on Seeley Lake, attending class reunions, riding roller coasters and water slides, and tinkering with daily objects to make them what he considered "better”. He was a man who knew a little bit about a whole lot which led him to being the master "Jack of all trades". Some of his jobs included "paper boy" for the Missoulian, custodian and mail delivery at the University of Montana, manager of Electrolux, pharmacy tech, and also playing a major role in the family operated day care. Jim also spent many hours as a volunteer at Habitat for Humanity ReStore.
Jim is preceded in death by his parents, Harold and Louise Van Nice, and his sister Catherine. He is survived by his wife Lizzie, daughters; Jennie (Fred), Misty (Gabe), Shannon (Marc), Lindsay (Arthur), son, "little Jim" ("little Liz"), grandkids; Chris, Josiah, Bethany, Braden, Nakiah, Kyori and baby NiceBerg (due in February), siblings; Lee (Helen), RoAnne (Larry), Rob (Poli), Donnie (Andrée), many nieces and nephews and a few other family members that have not come from blood but from the heart; Serina, Paul, Roham, Dontae, and many others.
Services will be held at Garden City Funeral Homes, 1705 W. Broadway St., Missoula, MT 59808 at 10:30 am on Friday, October, 27 with a reception to follow. Interment will take place at Western Montana State Veteran Cemetery. We welcome all who knew Jim to please come and celebrate his life with us.
In lieu of flowers contributions can be made to Habitat for Humanity ReStore, 3655 Mt Highway

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