James Calvin “Jim” Rathburn, loving husband, beloved father and grandfather, and faithful friend, entered his eternal rest with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on December 8, 2020 at Meadowview Health and Rehab in Huntsville, Arkansas due to complications of dementia. Jim was born May 3, 1938 in St. Joseph, Missouri to Leonard Calvin Rathburn and Leda Jane (Wright) Rathburn, who preceded him in death. He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Marilyn Rathburn of Springdale, Arkansas; their four children, Ingrid (Bruce) DeYoung of Siloam Springs, Arkansas; Eric (Abi) Rathburn of Leavenworth, Kansas; Matthew Rathburn of Olathe, Kansas; Emily (Jay) Brannon of Rogers, Arkansas; Jim’s cherished grandchildren, Luke (Oktawia) DeYoung of Little Rock, Arkansas; Elizabeth DeYoung of Fayetteville, Arkansas; Jay Dene Brannon and James Brannon of Rogers, Arkansas. Also surviving is sister-in-law, Loanna Thompson, nephews, Mart and Paul Thompson, niece Patricia Thompson; sister-in-law Helen Rupp, nephews Joe and Michael Rupp; and a cousin, Shauna Rathburn McCain.
Young “Jimmy” lived in Kansas City, Missouri with his parents until his father entered the Military in 1944. He and his mother moved to St. Joseph, Missouri living with his fraternal grandmother. His Grandmother Callie had a great influence on Jim’s life. He attended elementary through high school in St. Joseph, Missouri public schools. Upon high school graduation, May 1957, he joined the Navy, reporting for duty August 14, 1957. He was a proud Sailor on board the Destroyer Escort USS Lansing (DER 388), patrolling the waters from Alaska to Hawaii. His home base was San Francisco, California. His ship participated in the Nuclear Testing in the Pacific. During a storm he climbed up the mast to the antenna to make an essential repair to the ship’s radar system. He received a Good Conduct Medal on August 14, 1960. He was honorably discharged May 20, 1961 with the rank of ET2 (E-5). Jim believed the Navy experiences helped his focus on a path forward for his life which included a college education, wife and family.
Jim began that path forward by enrolling in college at the University of Missouri at Columbia in 1961. His plan began to fall into place. As a freshman, he met his future wife, Marilyn Rupp, a senior, soon to be graduating and accepting a teaching position. A long distance courtship resulted in their marriage on June 7, 1964 lasting 56 loving years. Jim graduated with his Bachelors of Science Degree in Industrial Education June 8, 1965. He accepted an Industrial Engineering position at Emerson Electric in St. Louis, Missouri. During the years ahead he worked at Conduction Corporation in St. Charles, Missouri; John W Hobbs in Springfield, Illinois; Assistant Plant Manager at Tamko Paper Mill in Joplin, Missouri; Rockwell International in Sheridan, Arkansas. In February 1978, he accepted the opportunity to own and operate his own ServiceMaster professional cleaning business serving the Northwest Arkansas area. Over the next 26 years he served his customers, building a reputation of trust, dependability and honesty.
Jim was a man of faith in God. The love and influence of his Grandmother, Callie, guided him in his young life. Jim was baptized at age 12. He was confirmed in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, while in college. Through the years he was active in church work serving where needed from Chairman of the building committee, parochial school board member at Immanuel Lutheran in Joplin; usher, elder, chairman of the congregation, basketball and softball church league team member, Bible study class, etc. He was always first to volunteer to set up tables and chairs for church events and then taking them down and putting them away until needed the next time.
Next to loving God, he loved his family. All he ever wanted was a family. He enabled his wife and children to achieve their goals and be the best they could be. He sacrificed his wants to provide a safe and stable home for his family.
Jim was a man of many talents and interests. He could fix just about anything, build what Marilyn wanted, remodel the house etc. He was an avid reader and lifelong learner. He was interested in science, astronomy, history, economics, sports, wood working, Bible study to name a few things. He cherished his childhood dog, Spooks, who passed away while he was in the Navy. Through the years he carried that love to the dogs he adopted from animal shelters. He fed all the stray cats, nursed a tiny abandoned kitten with a tiny bottle. He had a good sense of humor, was a good listener, accepted others as they were, and shared whatever he had that somebody might need. In keeping with his nature of giving and sharing with others, the American Red Cross’s record shows Jim gave 28.62 gallons of blood, just 2 donations shy of 29 gallons! This total does not reflect the donations given while in the Navy. These qualities were evident and endeared him to the staff and residents at Meadowview Health and Rehab even when he couldn’t verbally communicate. Jim’s family wish to thank the staff of Meadowview Health and Rehab under the very capable direction of Director of Nursing, Starr Smith for Jim’s tender care these past 7 ½ years and the many kindnesses shown his family in Jim’s last days. A special thank you to Jim’s long time care givers Jeff Waldron, Karen Smith and Donald Fawcett. Thank you to Dr. Travis Embry for considering any possibility that might make Jim’s life better and tolerating wife, Marilyn’s persistence. A thank you also to Ruby Phyle, former Director of Meadowview Health and Rehab, for her leadership impacting the integrity and quality of care at Meadowview.
Visitation will begin at 9 a.m. followed by a funeral at 10 a.m. Thursday, December 17 at Salem Lutheran Church, 1800 W Emma Ave, Springdale, Arkansas with Pastor Mark Krause officiating. Jim will be laid to rest at 1 p.m. in St. John’s Lutheran Church Cemetery, 5732 Farm Road 1057, Purdy, Missouri 65734.
In lieu of flowers the family requests memorial donations be made to KFUO Lutheran Radio ministry at KFUO.org or by mail, KFUO Radio, 1333 S. Kirkwood Road, St. Louis, MO 63122, phone number 800-844-0524
Salem Lutheran Ministries, 1800 W Emma Ave, Springdale, AR 72762.