James W. Onthank of Grangeville died March 15, 2005, at the age of 42 in a work-related automobile accident on Highway 95. Also killed in the accident was Toby Stevens.
Jim is survived by his wife, Cynthia D. Onthank, 42, also of Grangeville; and his two sons, Kirt L. Onthank, 22, his wife Stephanie J. Onthank, 24, of College Place, Wash., Cody J. Onthank, 19, his wife, Falina F. Onthank, 22; and Jim's first grandson, Caleb Josiah Onthank, 16 months, of Walla Walla, Wash. He also is survived by parents, Samuel and Katherine Onthank of Clarkston, Wash., and siblings, Michael, Scott and Kelly.
Jim was born on Oct. 24, 1962, in Grangeville. He met his future wife, Cynthia Oleson, at a community dance in Cottonwood on July 19, 1980. After graduating from Grangeville High School in 1981, he furthered his education at the Eastern Idaho Vocational Technical School in Idaho Falls where he received his associate of applied science degree in marketing management.
Jim and Cynthia were married on Jan. 23, 1982, followed by the birth of their first son Kirt on Aug. 2 of that year. After graduating from EIVTS, Jim worked at Noah's Ark Pet Center and later became assistant manager of Kinney’s Shoes, working at the Idaho Falls and the Pocatello stores. Moving back to Grangeville, he began work at Miller's Hardware. On May 23, 1985, Cody, his second son, was born. Beginning in July of 1987, Jim worked for the Idaho Transportation Department at Reed's Bar for six years, after which he transferred to the Grangeville office and continued there until his death on the job.
Nov. 9, 2003, Jim saw his first grandson, Caleb Josiah, born to his son Cody and wife Falina.
More than any other hobby, Jim loved the outdoors. Whether hunting, fishing, hiking or camping with his family, he always seemed to find peace and enjoyment when surrounded by nature. Always by his side during hunting ventures was his best friend since high school, Joe Lothspeich. The two planned for years to hunt caribou in Alaska, but never yet had the chance.
Another extension of his love for nature was expressed in his collection of exotic pets that he kept and bred. Included among the animals that he raised were tortoises, geckos, beetles, more than 50 species of arachnids; multiple freshwater and saltwater tanks contained tropical coral, discus and seahorses.
He also had quite a green thumb, growing various orchids, African violets, carnivorous plants, bonsai trees, and cacti. He also raised and trained two hunting dogs.
Rockhounding was another enjoyment that kept him outdoors. He would often pack up his family and take them to locales that featured digging for garnets, quartz crystals or sapphires during a summer vacation. He also was accomplished in faceting gems and even cut the sapphire in his daughter-in-law's wedding ring. Jim loved to read novels and non-fiction, adding constantly to his knowledge in all subject matters, especially in the sciences. His acute memory enabled him to recall facts years after reading them with surprising accuracy.
Above all, Jim was a loving and dedicated husband and father who would put aside anything else in his life for them, even passing up promotions in his career to preserve the time he had with his loved ones. He leaves behind a perfect example of what a family man should be. Jim will be missed by all who knew him, many far beyond our small community.
Memorial services will be held Monday, March 21, at 2 p.m. at the Grangeville Church of the Nazarene with Pastor Rick Jorgensen officiating. Services are under the direction of the Blackmer Funeral Home, Grangeville. Please send condolences to the family at Blackmerfuneralhome.com