Jim Bob Henslee was born on April 8, 1932, in Denison, Tx, to CP and Octie Henslee. He grew up in Denison with his brothers, Clyde, Ray Gene, Tom, and Johnny and his sisters Margie and Janis, who passed away as a child. After he finished school, he worked for Scott Construction. He was drafted into the Army at age 21 and was posted in Kaiserslautern, Germany. He carried a camera with him through Germany, and even in his eighties could name the men he served with in the photos and remember stories about that time.
After discharge from the Army, Jim worked on the Katy Railroad in North Texas and Oklahoma. In Atoka, Oklahoma, he met a girl at a soda counter and asked her and her friend out on a double date that evening. When Jim and his friend arrived to pick the girls up, they were told the girls had gone to Caney and they could meet them there. A short drive later, the boys realized that there wasn’t much to see in Caney, Oklahoma, and particularly no sign of the two girls who had stood them up. But Jim was persistent, and he and Naomi Parsons were married on May 15, 1955.
They had their first daughter, Janis, on April 11, 1956, and moved to Odessa, Texas, one month later. Jim would spend the rest of his life in Odessa, first working briefly at Phillips, then for the US Post Office until his retirement in 1989. Even while working for the Post Office, Jim always had another business or two going on the side. He painted and built houses, owned a saddle shop (J&K Saddlery) and a grocery store (Jim’s Grocery), and for many years ran a series of Jim’s Sports Cards shops well into his seventies.
Jim and Naomi had their second daughter, Kim, on May 5, 1962. They raised their girls in Odessa alongside Naomi’s sisters Ruby, Thelma, Noretta, and Mary and their families. There were always cousins to play with, aunts and uncles cooking and chatting, and many trips to Stigler and Denison to visit family. Naomi passed away in 1985 after a battle with cancer. Jim called in sick to work every day of her later illness to be by her side.
He later married Rovena Bruce, and they were married until her passing in 2018. They shared a love of travel to sites of American history (and to Las Vegas and Hobbs for a little gambling), their dogs Lola and Molly, and spoiling their great-grandchildren.
Jim loved sports, primarily football, although basketball and baseball were acceptable in the football off-season. His knowledge of sports events and players was encyclopedic, and he loved discussing them with longtime friends and regulars at his shop and placing an occasional friendly bet. His yard was a source of great pride to him; he was always watering, growing beautiful roses, and raising turtles. He liked woodworking in his shop in the backyard, making still-treasured dollhouses and Christmas decorations. He was also a great reader who enjoyed learning about current events, politics, history, and of course keeping abreast of sports news.
Jim was a kind, consistent, involved presence in the lives of his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, family, and friends. Every first day of school, every graduation, every special event was faithfully attended. He drove his grandchildren to school for years on end, always stopping by McDonald’s for breakfast. He shared a birthday with his first grandchild, Amber, and never complained about spending his birthday at the skating rink or the movie theater. An active man throughout his life, he accompanied the family to arcades, on carnival rides, and to amusement parks into his seventies and eighties. He was dependable for a card and likely a present for every holiday, major and minor, and some money slipped in your pocket for gas or dinner whenever you said goodbye after a visit.
Those who knew him well and those who met him only briefly often commented on his kind and gentle demeanor and friendliness to everyone he encountered. He always liked to know how everyone was doing and how the weather was where they were. He was proud to make it to age ninety, and he had a small celebration with friends and family by his side just a few weeks before he passed.
Jim is survived and beloved by his daughters, Janis Gorby and Kim Henslee; his son-in-law, Billy Gorby; his grandchildren, Aaron Gorby, Steven Talley, Amber Pyeatt and Danny Chelius; his great-grandchildren Naomi, Charlotte, and Ian Chelius and Kynndal Talley; his sisters-in-law, Noretta Livesay, Joan Henslee, and Neva Henslee; his brother-in-law, Weldon Arthur, and many nieces and nephews.
His family would like to extend their deepest thanks to his caregivers at Madison, including Sharon, Linda, Randall, Sandra and Mindy. As well as to Dr. Sudhir Amaram, Dr. Daniel O’Hearn and his nurse Angie Musick, Dr. Sam Kim, Dr. Kris Howard, and Dr. Pankaj Khandelwal. His staff who took excellent care of Jim for many years, and to his friends at Madison, especially his roommate Chas Crain.