James Winter

James “Jim” Russell Winter was born Jan. 24, 1935, in Huron, S.D., to Russell H. and Lulu (Meyer) Winter.
Jim is well-known for his love of planes and flying, a love that formed when he was just a toddler. Stricken with polio, Jim was transferred via a passenger plane to Sioux Falls, S.D., for treatment and numerous surgeries. At the S.D. State Fair in 1947, in between eating cotton candy and taking care of the Herford cattle he took to show, Jim saw a Stinson aircraft and his dreams of flying truly took off.
In exchange for flying lessons, Jim painted a barn, or rather, his best buddies all grabbed a brush and helped. He rented various planes in Huron and tried to spend any extra free time in the air.
Jim graduated from Huron High School, where he became interested in ham radio. His call sign was K0DPD. After high school, Jim worked with his parents and brother, Don, on the farm in southwest Huron and later worked as a radio technician and specialist for Northwestern Public Service in Huron.
Jim married Ellen Ellingson from Forestburg, S.D., Aug. 23, 1959. They were married 52 years, until her death. The two met and fell in love when he literally swept her off her feet. They had three children: Jack, JoAnn and Jenny (better known as “Polish,” “Moose” and “Mess,” nicknames given to them by Jim).
In the 1970s, Jim and the family began building the Winter dream home in Custer on Lower French Creek. In 1980, Jim, Ellen and Jenny finally moved into that home, while JoAnn moved to Custer State Park and Jack lived and worked in Huron. Jim bought his first Stinson airplane when he moved to the Black Hills.
In Custer, S.D., Jim owned and operated Winter Radio, a two-way radio sales and service. He repaired and sold many radios in Custer and the surrounding areas, making many friends along the way.
When he was 58, Jim graduated from Cheyenne AreoTech in Cheyenne, Wyo., receiving an airframe and power plant certification. Jim went on to be inspection authorized, the highest achievement for an aircraft mechanic. His love for learning never stopped; he was always reading books and watching shows and instructional videos about airplanes. 
When he wasn’t flying, Jim could often be found rebuilding and restoring airplanes for himself, as well as for his children and others.
Through owning his own business and partaking in his hobbies, Jim instilled the love of creation and fabrication in his children and grandchildren. Whether he was repairing radios, restoring old vehicles or tractors or helping with home improvements, Jim — a true jack-of-all-trades — insisted you could make it. The memories and skills of Jim’s welding, woodworking and mechanical teachings will live on and continue to be useful to his children and grandchildren.
After Ellen’s death, Jim found love again and married Arbutus (Fuerst) Hanson Oct. 11, 2014, in Custer.
Jim was a lifetime member of the EAA Chapter 39 of Rapid City, a member of Custer Lutheran Fellowship and volunteered on a number of boards, including the Custer County Airport Board, was a township chair and board member of Clyde Township in Beadle County and served as state president of the S.D. Flying Farmers. He was inducted into the S.D. Aviation Hall of Fame and was an elder for Custer Elementary School’s Elder’s Wisdom, Children’s Song program.
Jim loved to travel, having been to Australia, Europe, Alaska and a lot of the U.S. national parks. He loved to attend air shows, particularly the Experi-mental Aircraft Association in Oshkosh, Wis.
Jim died peacefully Dec. 31, 2019, at Custer Regional Hospital. He was 84.
Jim was preceded in death by his parents, Russell and Lulu; wife, Ellen; brother, Donald; and infant sister, Darlene.
Jim is survived by his wife, Arbutus Winter of Custer; son, Jack (Mary Moe) Winter of Huron; daughters, JoAnn (Dan) Stearns of Elk Mountain, S.D., and Jennifer (Timothy) Behlings of Custer; six grandchildren, Anna (Tony Vandenberg) Winter of Lebanon, N.H., Jay (Belinda Songer) Winter of Huron, Dalton (Dani) Stearns and Morgan (Jessie) Stearns of Elk Mountain, Russell (Tessah) Behlings of Lake Nebagamon, Wis., and Joshua (Courtney) Behlings of Mazama, Wash.; and three great-grandchildren, Dierk Stearns, Dillon Stearns and Ellen Behlings.
A memorial service will be at 11 a.m. Jan. 17 at Custer Lutheran Fellowship. A memorial has been established to Custer Lutheran Fellowship.

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