Cover photo for James Holcomb's Obituary
James Holcomb Profile Photo
1954 James 2015

James Holcomb

September 12, 1954 — December 28, 2015

Life Story for James Richard Holcomb

Jim was born September 12, 1954 to Clement and Carol Holcomb in Detroit, Michigan, where he spent his childhood. After graduation from the University of Michigan with a degree in Forestry, he traveled across Canada. On his way home, he took a spin through Idaho. The Sawtooth Mountains stopped him in his tracks. There was no need to go further; he knew he’d found the place where he would spend the rest of his days.

Jim lived in Stanley for a time and worked as a backcountry ranger in the White Clouds, a range of mountains he grew to love for their rugged beauty. He spent a number of winters teaching cross country skiing at Galena Lodge. In the summer, Jim could be found climbing in Yosemite and later guiding fly fishing for Silver Creek Outfitters. But Jim’s interests and talents were not limited to the outdoors. He was a talented artist as well. He started Idaho Mudworks and many of his hand-painted tiles, sinks, and pottery are displayed throughout the Wood River Valley.

Jim soon made his home in Indian Creek, building the sixth house in the canyon. During his time in Indian Creek, Jim took an active role in maintaining the creek flowing through the canyon in an effort to provide a rich environment for its native trout. In addition, as Jim looked toward the future, he’d recently proposed a project involving middle school students with an eye toward hands-on learning in the natural environment just out his back door, a house that sits, literally, at the end of the road, bordered by the creek that he loved so much, and a place that provided a peaceful setting.

Later in life, Jim had the good fortune of meeting his wife, Nancy. Together they brought their beloved son, Jimmy, into the world. And Jimmy was everything to his father. From his early days of sharing his love for fishing to his latter days of sharing his love for rock climbing, Jim loved the outdoors and was so proud to share this love with his son.

Following Jim’s days of working in the outdoors, he turned his interest toward real estate and found success in spite of a tough market. Certainly, Jim’s success was a result of the passion that he brought to all the challenges he faced, whether it be teaching someone to ski, putting up a new climbing route, or landing a ridiculously large steelhead. Jim had an innate passion for excellence. For those who knew him, they need no explanation; it was so evident in his accomplished fishing, climbing, fly tying, painting, and fathering.

Jim shared his passions with many good friends and traveled the world in pursuit of unique adventures, visiting such places as British Columbia, New Zealand, Russia, Christmas Island, and the Bahamas. And upon returning home from his adventures, whether they be abroad or local, there was always a story to tell. And Jim was a master storyteller, a raconteur who could tell the same story time and time again over the years, but we found ourselves always eager to hear the story again because of Jim’s skill in the art of narrative, and the joy and laughter that his stories would inevitably produce.

In 2010, Jim was diagnosed with colon cancer; however, he was able to fight the disease and was pronounced cured, not a surprise to those who knew his strength and resolve in facing and accepting a challenge. But in August of 2014, Jim was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer. He remained optimistic and searched for a cure, but the odds were stacked against him; however, in his last few weeks with us, Jim showed remarkable courage, maintained his idiosyncratic sense of humor, and continued to share the stories of his life that were laced with humor as if he were trying to tell us that everything is going to be alright…keep laughing, keep living, and most of all, never forget the value of friendship. Jim left us too soon. He passed away on Monday, December 28th 2015 at age 61.

A memorial for Jim will be held in the summer at a location and time to be announced. Due to the sudden and unexpected nature of Jim’s passing, there are many stories from Jim’s life that Jimmy and Nancy did not get a chance to transcribe. In preparation for Jim’s memorial, they ask that you send any stories or photos that you may have of Jim to

In lieu of flowers, donations in Jim’s name to the Wood River Fire and Rescue Firefighter’s Association (a 501 (c)(3) non-profit) would be very much appreciated.

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


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