Long time Gunnison County resident, James Lee Coleman, passed “over the Great Divide” on Feb. 15.
Jim was born on Aug. 22, 1929, in Hillside, Colo. He was the fourth son of six boys born to William and Bessie Coleman. Jim grew up on the family ranch near Westcliffe, Colo., where he learned his life-long values of hard work. When he wasn’t working, Jim always had a great story to tell about his many varied life experiences. Jim graduated from Westcliffe High School in 1947 and attended Colorado State University. Jim married Donna Poos on May 6, 1951. They were married for 58 years before Donna passed away in 2009, together they raised five children. Jim served in the Army from 1952- 1955. He obtained the rank of Corporal and was stationed in California and Germany. After serving his country, he returned to Gunnison to partner with his brothers Jack and Gene Coleman in their Gunnison Trucking Company. He started his own family trucking company, Gunnison Alpine Contracting. In addition to maintaining the local trucking company, Jim also entered the railroad salvage business, operating across the United States from 1970 to 2009, including the narrow gauge rail from Durango to Chama, N.M. Many of the boxcars or cattle cars you find hidden around Colorado were ones he had sold.
For many years, Jim enjoyed being a director on the board for the Gunnison Pioneer Museum. Jim and his family donated many hours of work for the museum, moving numerous tractors, equipment, old cars, buildings and dirt. Much of the Pioneer Museum’s train exhibit was made possible through Jim’s efforts. Jim was an avid snowmobile racer in the 1960s and 1970s, winning many trophies and championships. He also enjoyed water skiing, oftentimes having both the snowmobiles and boat hooked to his pickup to enjoy both sports in the same day. Jim Coleman’s legacy will live on through his contributions to the Pioneer Museum and the community he loved so very much.
Jim is survived by his brother Miles Coleman (Donna), sisters-in-law Dorothy Coleman and June Coleman, his children, Janette Paynter, Tom Coleman, Julie Coleman, David Coleman, and Rob Coleman (Joy). He is also survived by his grandchildren: Stephanie Fry (Todd Soukup), Ryan Fry (Cirenda) Hayden Coleman (Sarah), Heather Coleman della Volpe (Chris), Aaron Clarke (Katie), Jessica Clarke (Ian Lilya), Candice Coleman Gallegos (Rusty), Cody Coleman, Amy Coleman McCrary (Shannon) and Matthew Coleman (Alicia). He is also survived by 13 greatgrandchildren.
On Feb. 20, James had a private military funeral at the Gunnison Cemetery and rests beside his beloved wife, Donna. A celebration of Jim’s life will be held at a future date to be announced. Memorial contributions may be made to: The Pioneer Museum, P.O. Box 824, Gunnison, CO 81230.