Jim Yocom, patriarch of Twisp River, passed away on March 8, 2014. Jim was born in Twisp on Dec. 27, 1939, to Joe and Lela Yocom. He was raised on the family farm up Poorman Creek along with four brothers and three sisters. The family endured hard times during the depression. Father Joe was a logger and trapper and the family often subsisted on wild game. His mother Lela worked in town at Boyd’s Café as well as in packing sheds down the valley. It was Jim’s job to herd and milk the goats before and after school, a chore which led to a lifelong distaste for goats.
Jim married Karen Dahl at the age of 18, and they lived in a small home in Twisp. He worked at the Wagner Sawmill for about eight years, and supplemented that income with trail crew work for the U.S. Forest Service, along with running trap lines from Mazama to Pateros. In the late 1960s, he found work on the construction of Wells Dam, and he, Karen and son, Bobby, moved to a home 10 miles up Twisp River.
Jim followed in his father’s footsteps as a logger in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s. His prowess for falling trees put him in high demand by logging outfits throughout the Pacific Northwest. Many timber harvest blocks in the Twisp River watershed were felled by Jim, including some of the first helicopter-logged units. He also took on the big trees during the heyday of logging in southeast Alaska. Jim eventually ran his own contract operation, enduring the perils of falling trees through rain, snow, heat and bitter cold for 30 years.
His passion for logging was equaled by his passion for hunting. Jim knew the countryside, understood the wildlife, and exercised patience and perseverance. He hunted big game locally, as well as in Alaska, Colorado and Montana. Jim also loved his hounds, staying out overnight with them if need be to tree a cougar. Mules and classic cars also had a fond place in his heart.
In 1991 Jim married Mary McHugh and they milled logs together for four years, turning out splendid boards with his sawmill to expand the barn. He enjoyed riding trails in the Sawtooths with Mary and her daughter, Heather, retracing Grandpa Joe’s trap line trails to Fish Creek Pass and backpacking into Beaner Lake.
Years of running a saw took a toll on Jim’s body, and he was confined to a wheelchair for the last decade of his life. However, he continued to live independently and productively in his Twisp River home. He enjoyed being outside, doing yard work, irrigating the pasture and lawn, or shoveling snow off his deck. And he kept his friends’ chains well-sharpened. Many young folks benefited from his recollection of routes through the surrounding mountains and access to special places. Visits with Heather’s young daughter, Pearl, were particularly treasured during Jim’s later years.
Jim is preceded in death by parents, Joe and Lela Yocom; brothers Joe, Johnny and Jack Yocom; sisters May Jepson and Alice Alvarez; and son, Bobby. He is survived by half-sister Dolores Wallace, brother Donald Yocom, stepdaughter Heather McArthur and her daughter Pearl.
There will be a celebration of Jim’s life at a date to be announced later this spring; friends and neighbors should be ready to bring their favorite “Jim story”.