James Alan Oriet, 64, of Manhattan, Montana, passed away Wednesday, August 4, 2021, of complications from pneumonia. He was born in Great Falls, Montana, to William Leon and Patricia Jean (Karlen) Oriet.
Jim grew up in the Gallatin Valley, playing outside from dawn to dusk with all the neighbor kids on Nelson Road. In his youth, Boy Scouts kept him busy as well as baseball. Jim loved to reminisce about being a member of the 1968 Little League State champions and going on to Regionals in Washington. He graduated from Belgrade High School in 1975 and went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in Education from Western Montana College (now UM Western) in 1979. He was a four-year starting defensive back for the WMC Bulldogs from 1975-79, where he earned first-team all-conference honors twice. Jim was also a four-year letterman in track, two-time 400-meter hurdle champion, and 1978 Track Man of the Year. He was inducted into the Western Bulldog Athletic Hall of Fame in 1991 and again in 2013 with his team, the 1977 Football Conference champions.
Jim later earned his master’s degree at MSU where he was a part of the Excellence in Montana Mathematics Education Program.
During his college years, Jim met his soulmate, Barb. They were married on August 8, 1981, and went on to have two children, Erin and Jase. They were four days short of 40 years together when Jim passed away.
He was incredibly passionate about his work as a teacher and coach. He taught in West Yellowstone from 1979 to 1981, and Shelby from 1981 to 1982. In the fall of 1984, Jim and Barb moved to Manhattan, where Jim went on to teach 5th grade until 2004 and then K-5 Physical Education until his retirement in 2019. During his tenure, he coordinated and founded many events, most notably the elementary school Fun Run and the all-school Halloween “Monster Mash”, which turned out to be a graveyard smash.
In addition to teaching, Jim spent many years coaching. He poured his heart into mentoring countless junior high and high school athletes in football, volleyball, and track and field.
Outside of work, he loved spending time in the outdoors. Hunting, camping, and backpacking on the Beartooth Plateau and surrounding areas were some of his favorites. He also enjoyed spending time at the Shearer family farm in Eastern Montana. In his retirement, Jim loved sudoku, watching old Clint Eastwood movies, and applying his handyman skills to home and yard improvement projects.
He was a proud and dedicated husband, father, and grandfather. He loved spending time with his family, and they enjoyed many adventures together. Whether it was floating the river, trips to Yellowstone in the winter, sports, or relaxing on the deck, it was treasured time together. He had a charismatic personality and made friends wherever he went. His smile was contagious, and no one could deny the sparkle in his eye.
Jim was preceded in death by his father, William L. (Bill); grandparents, Herb and Hazel Karlan; father-in-law, Jack Shearer; and niece, Amy Loos.
Survivors include his wife, Barb Oriet; daughter, Erin (Anthony) Hutchings of Manhattan; son, Jase (Lindsey Hafer) Oriet of Billings, MT; two grandchildren, Mackenna and Sophie Hutchings; his mother, Patricia Oriet; sisters, Jan (Rich) and Julie (TD); brothers, William “Mike” (Susan) and Robert “Bob” (Carol); mother-in-law, Betty Shearer, brothers-in-law, Dave (Mic Dawson) Shearer and Rich (Mary) Shearer; sister-in-law, Norma Shearer; and many nieces and nephews whom he loved to tease, teach, and love.
He will be loved and missed terribly and remembered fondly by all who knew him.
A Celebration of Life will be held at 2:00 P.M. on Sunday, September 26, at the Manhattan High School gymnasium, 200 W. Fulton Ave in Manhattan.
Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service. www.dokkennelson.com [dokkennelson.com]