He graduated from Cabool High School in 1941 and enlisted in the U. S. Marine Corps in 1941, well before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He served in the South Pacific at Guadalcanal and was wounded in action on Tarawa in 1943, but continued to serve on other island landings and New Zealand and was part of the Pacific D-Day by landing on Saipan and Tinian, enduring fierce fighting. He was discharged in 1945.
He married Mary Lou Burchett on April 6, 1947 and they had three children. Ronald H. died in infancy in 1949 and Peggy Lou and Elliott Jay were born in the 1950s.
Jim had earlier graduated from St. Louis College of Mortuary Science and in 1952 he and Mary Lou purchased the Elliott Funeral Home. In 1953 he was elected Texas County coroner where he served for 44 years and continued to be an active Democrat until his health no longer permitted.
Some have said that Jim was a part of anything that played a role in progress for Cabool and the county. He always staunchly supported any school bond issue as well as any bond issue for the city and invested in rental houses and places of business in Cabool, doing whatever it took to support and make changes for bettering his community. Among the many community organizations that he was a part of were Cabool Development Corporation, Cabool City Council, Cabool Jaycees, Cabool Kiwanis (where he was the longest standing member with 35 years of service), First Baptist Church, Kabul Nursing Home, Cabool Senior Citizens Housing, Missouri Funeral Directors Association, long-standing member of Cabool VFW and many more. He helped start many things, including Kabul Nursing Home, chairing the fundraising effort for the nursing home, Wedgewood Country Club, the city swimming pool, Gentry Residential Treatment Facility and Texas County Memorial Hospital.
Jim and Mary Lou’s remarkable five-decade history as funeral directors showed their professionalism, compassion, and caring for hurting families while striving to do every service to perfection. Family, friends and community were a great source of pride. Jim was an avid reader of everything including his Bible. He probably heard more messages from more preachers than anybody else with the exception of Mary Lou and knew more people from all over than many can imagine, but he for sure knew Jesus was his Savior and had made that decision years ago. It can be said that he loved Cabool and Cabool loved him.
He loved to sing and was a talented artist.
He loved sports, too, including baseball and especially the Cardinals, basketball, football, including raising money for a new stadium lighting system for the field, bowling, golf and NASCAR racing. An avid Cabool Bulldog fan, he also followed the MU Tigers and SMSU Grizzly basketball team and supported countless youth sports, including baseball and city park improvements and area picnic gatherings.
He took pride in his appearance, including shining his shoes every day, and enjoyed his association with the coffee bunch and some afternoon pie. He liked to walk and keep in shape and while health permitted was very faithful to visit his grandson, Jayson, on his evening walks. He would always take the time to hear a good joke or tell one and was well known for his smile and helpfulness. He was always generous with his money and time to individuals and the community.
Mary Lou preceded him in death in 2008. Jim passed away January 21, 2013.
He is survived by his daughter, Peggy Lindsey and husband Roger of Cabool; his son, Jay Gentry and wife Nancy of Cabool; two grandsons, Jayson Gentry of Cabool and Scott Lindsey and wife Mandy of Licking, Missouri; two great-grandchildren, Carson and Teagan Lindsey of Licking; two sisters, Nancy Clary of Alton, Missouri, and Lou Ann Denny of Basehor, Kansas; and a whole host of other relatives and friends.
Services were at 11:00 a.m. Friday, January 25, 2013, at Cabool First Baptist Church with Dr. Bob Marti officiating. Pallbearers were Leon Singleton, Jerry Rader, Tim Whetstine, Frank Paul, Don Wells and Leroy Walls. Honorary pallbearers were Jack Alpers, Dale Cartwright, Bill Honeycutt, Brad Ellsworth and Max Forsythe. Interment with full military honors was in Cabool Cemetery under the direction of Elliott-Gentry-Carder Funeral Home of Cabool.
In lieu of flowers the family requests memorial contributions to Cabool Cemetery or to the TCMH Healthcare Foundation: Care For Your Future Building Fund c/o the funeral home.