For 100 years and 103 days, James “Jim” Hasterlik lived his life with incentive and a thirst for words. On May 7, 2023, Jim sipped his last coffee and whiskey ditch, to leave behind many hats, slips of paper, and countless pairs of well-worn shoes.
“Little Jimmy” was born to James Albert and Estella (Creel) Hasterlik on a -40 degree day, January 24, 1923. Winter in his blood, it became the season that instilled a deep passion for snow, into his life. Jim set into motion the GF High School Ski Club in 1939, the Ski Hut in 1962, and the infamous Ski Bums in 1963.
Jim met, in 1944, the “love of his life,” Betty Lou Philpott on the ski train to Stephens Pass, WA. He knew she was “it” when after a fun ski day, Betty joined him for a full moon walk on the snow. A proposal on New Years turned to marriage, September 9, 1949, in Seattle, WA. The 40’s found Jim serving in the U.S. Navy, assigned to the South Pacific, in WWII, earning a B.A. from WSC, Pullman in Hotel/ Restaurant Management, and marrying his lovely Betty.
The 50’s brought Jim and Betty back to Montana for a better lifestyle and home to raise a new family, Steve, Susan, and Kate. Together, they purchased the Neihart General Store (1952) and 50 acres of land, named by Betty as “Karamu,” Swahili for “place of enjoyment”. Jim also served as Neihart’s town mayor and ranger for the Belt Creek Ranger Station.
The 60’s carved a big turn into the ski industry. A season managing the Big Mountain Lodge at Whitefish Ski Area and helping with the development of King’s Hill Ski Area; Jim and Betty, along with Butch Jones, built the A-frame Ski Hut at King’s Hill. Moving from Neihart to Great Falls (1966), they opened the Ski Hut in the newly built Holiday Village Mall.
For the next two decades, with the closure of the Ski Hut and Betty’s passing, due to Alzheimer’s, Jim built on the shared visions they had for Karamu, finishing the last cabin in 2020. After kicking Covid at age 99, he volunteered to move to Peace Hospice at 100, living at home had become too risky.
He is survived by his daughters, Susan (Greg) Werner and Kate (Tim) Hasterlik-Ibey; and daughter-in-law, Megan Limberger; with six grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; and several loving nieces and nephews.
To read the complete obituary and share condolences, click here to visit the O'Connor Funeral Home website.
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